Know your rights — read the Constitution

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  • Show your true colours: we have a constitutional right to assemble and demonstrate our views - but not to stop others from going about their business

    Show your true colours: we have a constitutional right to assemble and demonstrate our views - but not to stop others from going about their business

What does it mean to be free? To you personally? Well, you think — that’s an easy answer. “I can own and do what I want with my private property, express my opinions, think what I want, vote for who I want, marry whom I choose, I have equal rights against discrimination, I can attend rallies to protest for positions I believe in, and I can’t be arrested or detained without cause. All this stuff has been around since I was a child. So, what’s different about any of that?”

Actually, a whole lot different. We live in a democracy, not a dictatorship. We have equal rights under the law of our land — as long as we do not infringe upon the equal rights of others, or impact the public interest.

Democracy versus dictatorship. Interesting, both D-words, but weighed so heavily in contradiction to each other. Every single action listed above under a democratic society — is completely and utterly savaged under a dictatorship. Every single one, except individual private thought. Even unarticulated personal thoughts can be persecuted arbitrarily. Pity greatly those who must endure such a life. We have no idea.

Today, our focus is on our Bermuda Constitution Chapter I, page 11, 26 Protection Of Fundamental Rights And Freedoms Of The Individual: specifically, b) freedom of conscience, expression and assembly association.

1. 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:

a) Life, liberty, security of the person, and the protection of the law.;

b) Freedom of conscience, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and association.

c) 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.

Chapter I — 8 Protection of Freedom of Conscience

Except with his consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of conscience, including freedom of thought and of religion, freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others, and both in public or in private, to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

Additionally, no one is required — in an education setting — to observe, participate, or receive religious instruction that is not his own. No religious community can be prevented in preaching to its own community even if receiving government subsidies, grants or other financial assistance, nor shall any person be compelled to take an oath contrary to his beliefs.

Chapter I — 9 Protection of Freedom of Expression

Except with his consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression, and that freedom includes freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference, and freedom from interference with his correspondence.

Chapter I — 10 Protection of Freedom of Assembly and Association

Except with his consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of peaceful assembly and association, that is to say, his right to assemble freely and associate with other persons and in particular to form or belong to political parties or to form or belong to trade unions or other associations for the protection of his interests.

Freedom overrides to protect public interests. The most important protections of the Constitution safeguard the rights of all, this means everyone — while assuring the overall rights of the public interest. The Bermuda Constitution is also adamant in stating there are specific protections to prevent interfering in the rights of others who may not agree with you, practise different religions, have different political beliefs from you, impart differing opinions, or dissociate from organisations that you believe in, but they do not, conducting the country’s business (public interest) and so on.

The safeguard restrictions of these freedoms are imposed when public interests are challenged: In the case of public safety, public order, health, public morality, defence, protecting individuals’ reputations, keeping confidential information, maintaining the independence and authority of the courts, regulating public communication structures and certain restrictions imposed on public officers or teachers.

Find the facts, read the facts, decide for yourself. Blindly following someone else’s “tailored-to-suit the situation” facts is allowing that person(s) to take away your right to decide for yourself.

Politicians incorporated the Constitution. Politicians will come and politicians will go. Some will endeavour to change our Constitution. Some will succeed — more often for the common good of, and by, decent people, while some from political and personal bias. Some will attempt to influence our Bill of Rights with half-truths, fake information, text plucked completely out of context, and lies.

However, The Bermuda Constitution remains standing strong — in a democratic society.

Learn about our Constitution that protects your rights and freedoms. At the end of the day, isn’t it our duty as contributing members of our society to also protect our sacrosanct Bill of Rights — by never allowing these freedoms to be diluted, waived, or taken away?

Remember. This is our Constitution; this defines our Bermuda democracy to the world.

REFERENCE: Bermuda Constitution Chapter I — see pages 11 — 26 Protection Of Fundamental Rights And Freedoms Of The Individual.

The Constitution of Bermuda is the most powerful document of our land for within it, our fundamental individual rights and freedoms are defined, 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 and performance of the Premier, allocations of ministerial portfolios, proceedings in Cabinet, the Attorney-General’s role and that of Director of Public Prosecutions, and the Opposition Leader, the Judiciary — the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, the Public Service and related appointments, the Ombudsman functions, in Chapter VII (Seven) Directives for Financial Management of the Consolidated Fund, debt, and the most important role after the protections of our rights, the appointment of Auditor-General, the independent watchdog of the public’s money (our money).

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:

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Published Jan 28, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 28, 2017 at 12:21 am)

Know your rights — read the Constitution

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