About Us

Image Courtesy of Graham Foster :  Early Bermuda

Our Vision

It is our hope that the work of the Human Rights Commission will help to shape Bermuda as a community that honours and protects human rights for all.

Our Mission

As the national human rights institution in Bermuda, our mission is to eliminate discrimination through collaborative advocacy, education and enforcement.

Statutory Duties

The Commission has a statutory remit to protect and promote human rights under the Human Rights Act, 1981. The Commission’s mandate is to both educate and promote the principles of non-discrimination and equality and to investigate and endeavour to settle allegations of discrimination.

Under Section 14 of the Act, the Human Rights Commission is responsible for administration of the Act and shall:

  • Encourage an understanding of the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution and the principle that all members of the community are of equal dignity, have equal rights and have an obligation to respect the dignity and rights of each other;
  • Promote an understanding of, acceptance of, and compliance with the Human Rights Act, 1981;
  • Conduct research and develop initiatives designed to eliminate discriminatory practices;
  • Encourage and coordinate activities which seek to forward the principle that every member of the community is of equal dignity and has equal rights; and
  • Promote the conciliation and settlement of any complaints or grievances arising out of acts of unlawful discrimination and, where in its opinion such good offices are inappropriate, institute prosecution for contraventions of the Act.

Our Services

The Human Rights Commission provides assistance to those who believe they have experienced discrimination, or has any questions related to their rights and responsibilities under the Human Rights Act.

The Commission is both a public watchdog for human rights compliance, and a resource to foster and promote human rights principles by working with stakeholders across the island including government, community organisations, schools, businesses and individuals.

The Commission works to further its objective of eradicating discrimination through the following means:

  • Help address any and all queries related to rights in Bermuda
  • Assistance with complaints of discrimination under the Human Rights Act, 1981 – see Making or Responding to a Complaint for more information
  • Dispute resolution service through mediation and conciliation to help settle complaints of discrimination
  • Policy review and guidance with all stakeholders in support of human rights obligations
  • Engages in collaborative presentations, research and educational programming – to work with the HRC please contact us here
  • Consultations to support the evolution of legislation, just practices and policies in support of human rights compliance
  • Educational presentations, workshops and training tailored to meet stakeholder need in support of their human rights education and compliance commitments
  • Advice and consultation with Government on proposed legislative amendments to ensure consistency with international standards
  • Administering of Human Rights Tribunals – learn more in Tribunal section
  • Provides guidance to government, organisations, businesses, and educational institutions on the development and implementation of a human rights-based approach to legislation, policies, programs and complaint handling mechanisms to ensure compliance with the Act and international human rights agreements

You can seek assistance, or support this work, by contacting the Commission to let us know your needs, concerns or questions. We also welcome your feedback.

Commissioners and Officers

The Human Rights Commission or ‘the Commission’ consists of a diverse Board of Commissioners and a team of technical Officers.

The Commissioners

The Commissioners are appointed by members of an independent Selection and Appointment Committee (link to Selection and Appointment of Commissioners doc) to serve for three year terms.  The Commissioners are responsible for adjudicating complaints of discrimination by serving on tribunals and serving as educators and advocates in the promotion and protection of human rights.

Office Team

The HRC Officers work with the Commissioners to fulfill the goals and objectives of the Commission. Technical Officers are responsible for the daily operation of the Commission, including investigating complaints of discrimination, delivering public education and providing policy and legislative guidance in support of human rights. The HRC Office also oversees the administration of Human Rights Tribunals.

Lisa Reed

Executive Officer

 

Sonia Astwood

Administrative Officer

 

Legal Counsel

Legal Counsel

 

Sara Clifford

Education Officer

 

Darnell Harvey

Investigations Officer

 

Treadwell Tucker

Investigations Officer

 

Erlene Postlethwaite

Intakes Officer

 

Paris Principles

The Paris Principles (“Principles Relating to the Status of National Human Rights Institutions”) set out the minimum standards required by national human rights institutions to be considered credible and to operate effectively.

The guidelines were developed at a United Nations meeting held in Paris in 1991, which brought together representatives of national human rights institutions from all parts of the globe to define the core attributes that all new or existing institutions should possess. The Human Rights Commission continues to aspire to meet these expectations.

Confidentiality

The Human Rights Commission offers free and confidential services to members of the public who have human rights inquiries and complaints of unlawful discrimination. Both Commissioners and Officers have signed an oath of confidentiality, and all matters are treated with the highest regard and consideration.

Accountability

The Commission is committed to ensuring transparency as relates to our function as a public body, while upholding our statutory obligation to confidentiality in our dealings with matters of individual complaints and investigations. Each year the Human Rights Commission prepares an Annual Report featuring examples of the Commission’s engagement over the year, inclusive of key metrics related to intakes and investigations together with educational activities. See our latest Annual Report here. The Annual Report also references all Human Rights Tribunal decisions. Please note the decisions are available to the public and can be accessed on our website or via a request to the Office.

Public Access to Information (PATI)

The purpose of the Public Access to Information Act, 2010 (“PATI Act”) is to help increase transparency and to give members of the public the right to obtain access to information held by public authorities to the greatest extent possible, subject to exceptions that are in the public interest or for the protection of the rights of others.  Note that the Human Rights Commission falls into the excepted category as relates to some of our specific confidential duties.

The Human Rights Commission Information statement can be found here.

How to make a PATI request

In accordance with the PATI Act, requests for access to information must be in writing and directed to the Information Officer.  The Commission’s PATI Information Officer (PIO) is responsible for validating and processing all PATI requests received by validating requests.  The PIO will liaise with the requester, relevant decision maker or internal reviewer and third parties, in order to process requests in accordance with the PATI Act. There is no charge to the public for requesting information under PATI, however there may be costs to reproduce documents pursuant to the Government Fees Regulations 1976. The Commission’s PATI Information Officer is Sara Clifford. Requests may be submitted in the following ways:

In Person

Human Rights Commission
Mechanics Building, 3rd Floor
12 Church Street
Hamilton, HM 11

441-295-5859

By Post

Human Rights Commission
PO Box 734
Hamilton, HM CX

By Email

You can find more information about PATI and the Information Commission on their website.

We are here to assist you!