Anti-conscription campaigners are vowing to head to London’s Privy Council again after losing their latest battle in Bermuda’s Court of Appeal, the Royal Gazette reported on 9 November 2011. Bermudians Against the Draft (BAD) had been appealing against Puisne Justice Norma Wade-Miller’s April ruling that Government did not act unconstitutionally by conscripting Jamel Hardtman and brothers Larry Jr and Lamont Marshall. The three appellants had argued their constitutional right to be protected from inhuman treatment would be breached if they had to do military service. BAD has 21 days to lodge an appeal with the Privy Council, which is Bermuda’s highest court of appeal.
Speaking outside court, Mr Marshall Sr told The Royal Gazette: “I’m encouraged by Government’s step in the right direction in the Throne Speech. I feel it would be in the best interest of Bermuda if conscription was abolished.
“The alternative would be either a full-time or part-time army made up of volunteers, with proper pay, proper treatment and proper training. That’s always been our stance from the outset.
“However, during the interim, we must fight the judiciary way until it materialises. As long as we have conscription, we have to go through this.”
In Friday’s Throne Speech, Government announced it is formulating changes to the Defence Act 1965 which established the Regiment and conscription.
Governor Sir Richard Gozney, reading the Speech on behalf of Government, said: “First, the Government will review a recent decision by the Privy Council to take account of any inconsistencies in any discrimination provisions.”
“Second, the Government will table legislation that makes provision for new alternatives to conscription, including the introduction of a National Youth Service.”
Early last year, former Premier Ewart Brown announced a national service programme which would push young people into volunteering for 16 hours a month, with incentives such as better loan rates and reduced TCD fees.
Sources: The Royal Gazette: Court rejects newest BAD appeal, 9 November 2011; The Royal Gazette: BAD will continue its fight in courts Larry Marshall Sr, 8 November 2011