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Updating bribery, fraud laws on the agenda

Legal overhaul: Attorney-General Trevor Moniz

Attorney-General Trevor Moniz aims to modernise Bermuda’s dated bribery and fraud laws when the House of Assembly resumes in November.

Mr Moniz attended a conference from September 20-22 in the Turks and Caicos Islands alongside his counterparts from other Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.

A variety of topics were discussed at the conference, also featuring UK Solicitor-General Robert Buckland, relating to the rule of law and administration of justice in the OTs.

Mr Moniz said that he hoped to bring Bermuda into line with the United Nations’ Convention Against Corruption and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Anti-Bribery Convention. “Our bribery and fraud laws are very old and outdated. We’re trying to bring them up to modern standards, so we can comply with these conventions and have them extended to Bermuda,” he told The Royal Gazette.

Mental health legislation in the OTs was also discussed at the conference, again aiming to reform antiquated laws as well as ending the use of prisons as safe havens for those with mental health conditions.

“We don’t have a top-class psychiatric unit,” Mr Moniz said. “We need one, but it’s more economically feasible in larger jurisdictions.

“It’s a problem of scale, and we’re seeking answers to that.”

Regarding the UN Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, the Attorney-General said there was “no major problem” in Bermudian law to prevent it from being extended to the island.

“There may be one or two small areas where we have to tweak the legislation, and that’s in process,” he added.

Child safeguarding, human rights and government procurement were among the other issues discussed at the 25th Conference of Attorneys-General from UK Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, which looks likely to be held in Bermuda next year.

Mr Buckland also welcomed developments in legislation for same-sex marriage in St Helena, the British Antarctic Territory, Jersey and Guernsey.

Mr Moniz admitted that Bermuda has had its “struggles” finding a satisfactory route to extend mandated legal rights to same-sex couples.

“We have an obligation under the European Convention to establish a legal framework for same-sex partners,” the Attorney-General said.

“We have not done that, not for a lack of trying, because we haven’t been able to get anything through the House of Assembly. It’s a work-in-progress for us.”