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New Human Rights Commissioners Appointed

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Human Rights Commission is pleased to announce the appointment of Human Rights Commissioners for the 2016-18 term following the public application process.

The newly appointed Commissioners will be responsible for adjudicating complaints of discrimination, and as well, serve as educators and advocates in the promotion and protection of human rights.

This year saw the continuation of the public application process that was implemented in 2012.   In accordance with the Act, one-third of the persons appointed must possess legal qualifications; the other two-thirds may be drawn from the general population. The Selection and Appointment Committee was tasked with overseeing the public recruitment process and constituting a representative group of individuals reflective of Bermuda’s diverse community to take on the significant role of Human Rights Commissioner.

Lisa Reed, Executive Officer of the Human Rights Commission, reinforced her appreciation for the caliber and diversity of applicants saying, “Once again, the recruitment process identified the tremendous amount of interest in human rights as evidenced by so many talented and engaged advocates working in their respective areas of life to effect change. The Commission is hopeful that all those that applied will stay connected to the work of the Human Rights Commission moving forward.   2016 is set to hold historic progression for the HRC as a national human rights institution as it transitions to a Non-Ministry Department with increased levels of independence.  The outgoing Commissioners have set a very high bar, and we welcome the incoming members and the vital role they play in working with the Office to promote a culture of human rights, where our rights are better understood, respected, promoted and protected.”

The conclusion of this application process signals the completion of service for the Commission’s first cohort of Commissioners which was chaired by Michael Hanson. This inaugural group of Commissioners was tasked with establishing the Human Rights Tribunal process, while also fulfilling their education and advocacy duties.  The outgoing Chair had this to say about his experience and the significant duty and opportunity that the new Commissioners have, “Being selected as a Human Rights Commissioner is amongst the most important public services in Bermuda.  The responsibility, hard work and sacrifice required in such a role is well worth the opportunity to improve Human Rights for all residents of Bermuda.

Our initial term was heavily focused on implementing the new structure of the Commission, both in respect of creating and administering an effective Tribunal system, as well as advocating for Human Rights modernisation. It was an absolute privilege to be a part of this.

This being said our three year term was simply the start. There is no such thing as the “status quo” when dealing with Human Rights and ongoing reform is still very much required, both in respect to the protection our Act affords and the effective implementation of its jurisdiction.

I wish the new group of Commissioners all the best. I hope the public will support them and the staff of the Human Rights Commission in these challenging times.”

The twelve newly appointed Human Rights Commissioners are:

Tawana Tannock (Chair), John Hindess (Deputy Chair), Ben Adamson, Carla Lambert , Kim Simmons, Donna Daniels, Franklin Fahnbulleh, Jens Juul, Quinton Butterfield, Dany Pen, Carolyn Thomas Ray, and Jonathan Young.

The selection of Commissioners was guided by the expertise and dedication of the independent Selection and Appointment Committee who volunteered a significant amount of their time to ensure the provision of a comprehensive and thorough appointment process. The Committee reviewed each application ahead of undertaking an extensive interview schedule over a 6 week period. The Selection and Appointment Committee, in accordance with the Act, was comprised of Mr. Tim Marshall, Head of the Committee, Mr. Lorren Wilson, Ms. Maryanne Scott, Mr. Terry Hassel and Ms. Toni Daniels. The Human Rights Commission would like to thank each of the members for their exemplary commitment to this significant process.

The Commission looks forward to sharing more about the role of the Commissioners in the coming weeks following their first official convening.

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