Laws, liberty and freedom to choose

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  • Enshrined: stamps that marked the establishment of Bermuda's constitution in 1968

    Enshrined: stamps that marked the establishment of Bermuda's constitution in 1968


Christmas shopping all caught up? In the rush of preparations for one of the biggest holidays of the year, I am willing to bet that very few of us want to take time to think about the freedom of choice surrounding this historically famous celebration. It probably has never occurred to us — that we would not have the “right to celebrate (or not) our religion” as we choose.

And why should we think about such an automatic right? We are, after all, residing in a beloved country whose government was elected by us, believes in, legislates for, and supports democracy.

Democracy — the word evolved from the Greek: Demokratia — means literally “rule of the commoners”. Democracy in modern usage, is a system of government in which the citizens exercise power directly or elect representatives from among themselves to form a governing body, such as a parliament.

Democracy = liberty = freedom

A democratic society is a free society based upon laws designed to protect individual rights and the rights of society as a whole.

Perhaps, then, just a little time to be grateful for the advancements Bermuda has made, how democratic and progressive our island society really aspires to be. The place to look first and foremost is the document that controls our destiny, The Bermuda Constitution Order 1968 with amendments (see Bermuda Laws Online at http://tiny.cc/925qhy )

This legislation was diligently enacted into law by our forebears, some of whom, I believe are with us still today.

Democratic laws validate protection of everyone’s individual rights. The Bermuda Constitution Order 1968 is a powerful, emphatic living document, worth reading in its entirety.

It has had amendments over the years made by our representatives to reflect to modern life challenges and changing times.

It addresses at the very start: Chapter 1 — Fundamental rights and freedoms of the Individual, the functions and powers of the Governor, the Bermuda legislature including composition, qualifications for membership, tenure of seats, powers and procedures of the legislature, division of constituencies, the executive authority of Cabinet, functions, performance of the Premier, allocations of ministerial portfolios, proceedings in Cabinet, Attorney-General role and that of Director of Public Prosecutions, and the Opposition Leader, and in Chapter 5 — the Judiciary — the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, The Public Service and related appointments, the Ombudsman functions, and one of the most important, too — Finance — the public’s money (our money).

We go to Chapter 1 — the opening paragraph is this, most powerfully presented:

Protection of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the Individual

Fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual

Whereas every person in Bermuda is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, has the right:

• whatever his race,

• place of origin,

• political opinions,

• colour,

• creed,

• or sex,

• but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, to each and all of the following, namely:

• life,

• liberty,

• security of the person,

• and the protection of the law;

• freedom of conscience,

• freedom of expression and

• freedom of assembly and

• freedom of association; and

• protection for the privacy of his home and other property and

• from deprivation of property without compensation,

the subsequent provisions of this Chapter shall have effect for the purpose of affording protection to the aforesaid rights and freedoms subject to such limitations of that protection as are contained in those provisions, being limitations designed to ensure that the enjoyment of the said rights and freedoms by any individual does not prejudice the rights and freedoms of others or the public interest.

Next listed under Chapter 1 — are the Protections and Enforcement of these Fundamental Rights.

2 Protection of right to life

3 Protection from inhuman treatment

4 Protection from slavery and forced labour

5 Protection from arbitrary arrest or detention

6 Provisions to secure protection of law

7 Protection for privacy of home and other property

8 Protection of freedom of conscience

9 Protection of freedom of expression

10 Protection of freedom of assembly and association

11 Protection of freedom of movement

12 Protection from discrimination on the grounds of race, etc

13 Protection from deprivation of property

14 Provisions for time of war or emergency

15 Enforcement of fundamental rights

Each and every protection is diligently defined in law. But, we have to remember very clearly that while every individual in Bermuda is entitled to protection of individual rights and freedoms, there will be limitations to those very protections when, or if, one person’s very fundamental rights impinge upon, or prejudice, the rights and freedoms of others, or impinge or prejudice the public interest.

Democracy is a tool embedded in a very, very powerful institutional format. So many millions still do not have the inalienable right to choose their destiny. They can only hope for the day when they, too, have the rights of freedom and the state protection of those rights.

In future articles on a regular basis, we will be exploring these rights and freedoms in-depth. We need to know clearly what democracy means to us and to the financial success of our residents and our country.

During this holiday season, Let us be very grateful for what we all have today, here, now, freedom in this country. Remember these Freedoms. Cherish them.

Martha Harris Myron CPA PFS JSM: Masters of Law — International Tax and Financial Services; Pondstraddler Life™ Financial Perspectives for Bermuda Islanders with Multinational Families and International Connections on the Great Atlantic Pond. Contact: martha@pondstraddler.com

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Published Dec 17, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 16, 2016 at 2:09 pm)

Laws, liberty and freedom to choose

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