Brown and HRC in ‘candid’ talks over immigration changes
The Human Rights Commission has been invited to make submissions over controversial amendments to immigration legislation.
The HRC and home affairs minister Walton Brown released a joint statement yesterday, in which they said they had held “candid and constructive” talks over Mr Brown’s plan to make immigration regulations lawful even if they contradict the Human Rights Act.
Mr Brown said he is committed to accepting submissions on future amendments to the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act, while the HRC welcomed an invitation for one of its commissioners to join the Immigration Reform Committee. The minister has previously said the amendments are designed to protect Bermudians and to block court challenges over Bermuda status from non-Bermudians who can argue that immigration law has discriminated against them based on their country of origin.
The HRC had argued it was “reckless” to undermine the Human Rights Act, or have it portrayed as a tool for manipulation.
Mr Brown and the HRC said of their meeting: “The discussion was candid and constructive.
“The minister acknowledged the HRC’s fundamental concern at undermining the primacy of the Human Rights Act 1981 as a means of addressing immediate and necessary immigration reform. The minister, a human rights advocate, recognises the Human Rights Act 1981 is not a tool to be manipulated, nor weakened, and laws should only be exempted from its primacy in a reasonable and balanced way.
“Equally, the HRC recognises that Bermuda must have control over its immigration. However, that regulation should be exercised in a reasonable manner that upholds the principles afforded under national human rights legislation.
“In the interest of collaboration on human rights and immigration issues in the long term, the minister has invited a commissioner of the HRC to join the Immigration Reform Committee and the HRC has accepted this invitation.
“The minister is also committed to accepting submissions from the HRC and other interested parties on future amendments to the bill, or related recommendations.
“Both the HRC and the minister will seek to educate the public further on this very important issue and will be providing further information in the near future.”