The Human Rights Commission (the Commission) for Bermuda is pleased to announce its Annual Report 2021 was tabled in the House of Assembly on October 7, 2022 and is now available to the public.
Executive Officer, Lisa Reed, said, ‘The Commission progressed efforts to improve sustainability and access to information with our first integrated digital report for 2021. Printed copies of the report and in-person discussions remain available to those that require assistance with access. The Annual Report provides a streamlined account of the Commission’s activities and observations.
2021 saw the impacts of the pandemic continue to influence all aspects of life in Bermuda. The Commission reinforced the need to recognize that with any mandatory policy or practice applied to society collectively, the potential for discriminatory impacts exists and must be assessed to ensure against unintended impacts or actions which could amount to violations against the Act. Discrimination may occur where policies and procedures do not account for individual circumstances, differences, and characteristics, which may result in persons being unfairly disadvantaged.
The report provides a summary of annual intakes and investigations. The Commission received one hundred and seventy-four (174) complaints with members of the public primarily identifying discriminatory treatment based on section 2(2)(a)(i) – race, place of origin, color, ethnic or national origins, which comprised thirty-five percent (35%) of identified grounds. This was followed by the protected ground of disability at twenty percent (20%) and sex, which accounted for twelve percent (12%) of the identified grounds.
Regarding the areas of discrimination identified by members of the public, fifty-nine percent (59%) of the intakes related to employment, which combines matters under section 6(1) of the Act in addition to those identified as “employment-related”. Among the remaining areas of discrimination, the highest was sexual harassment at nine percent (9%) and a split between housing and harassment within the workplace at eight percent (8%), respectively. The Annual Report also features several anonymized examples of questions and complaints received to demonstrate the application of the Act and the kinds of assistance made by the Office.
The Human Rights Amendment Act 2021 marked an essential step in ensuring that Bermuda has an independent Human Rights Tribunal that can efficiently and expertly adjudicate human rights cases. An independent tribunal represents the establishment of another crucial pillar in Bermuda’s human rights framework. The amendments create a clear separation between the Tribunal and the Commission, with the Human Rights Tribunal panel members independently appointed by the Selection and Appointment Committee, established under section 13A of the Human Rights Act, 1981.
The report includes examples of stakeholder consultations in support of human rights promotion. Incorporating human rights standards into policy and legislative development helps ensure the integration of rights into national decision-making. The Commission provided resources to encourage the application of a human rights-based approach (HRBA) to governance.
In the year ahead, the Commission is committed to fortifying Bermuda’s national human rights legislation and expanding educational outreach to broadly promote the protections afforded under the Act and Bermuda’s human rights framework. As a Non-Ministry Office, the Commission’s autonomy and strengthened capacity are essential to effectively fulfilling its mandate and safeguarding the rights of all.
Please see link to digital Annual Report 2021 and pdf version on our site at: www.humanrights.bm or https://humanrights.bm/annual-report-2021/
The Office of the Commission welcomes questions and feedback related to this year’s Annual Report or our work in general. Please visit our website at www.humanrights.bm and contact us at 295-5859 or firstname.lastname@example.org.’
The Human Rights Commission has a statutory remit to protect and promote human rights under the Human Rights Act, 1981. As the National Human Rights Institution for Bermuda, our mission is to eliminate discrimination through advocacy, education and enforcement.
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