Tue | Jul 14, 2020

You don’t belong!

Published:Wednesday | November 13, 2019 | 12:40 AM

HAMILTON, Bermuda (CMC):

The attorney representing a man born in Bermuda whose bid for ‘belonger’ status has been rejected by London’s Privy Council says his client has grounds to take his fight to the European Court of Human Rights.

Lawyer Peter Sanderson described Monday’s ruling by the Privy Council — Bermuda’s highest court of appeal – against his client, Michael Barbosa, as “disappointing”.

Barbosa was born here in 1976 to non-Bermudian parents, but was told he has no right of abode in the country or the right to be treated as a person who belongs to Bermuda, a British Overseas Territory.

His legal battle with the offices of the minister of home affairs and the attorney general started in August 2015, but a subsequent ruling by Bermuda’s Court of Appeal was upheld by judges in London on Monday.

The outcome is likely to be a blow for up to 300 people resident in Bermuda with restricted rights, commentators said.

Sanderson told reporters that he was gutted by the decision.

“What is even more disappointing is that, since 2008, Bermuda’s political system has been unable to accommodate the limited number of people who were born in Bermuda and have spent most of their lives here but lack legal recognition.

“I believe there is an argument that the continued denial of rights for people who were born or brought up in Bermuda is a breach of their private and family lives,” Sanderson said, adding “there is the potential for Mr Barbosa’s case to be referred further to the European Court of Human Rights, and this is something that will be considered.”

In the original case, Barbosa argued that he had been unfairly prevented from seeking status on the basis of place of origin.

His circumstances meant that he was declared a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies, which became British Overseas Territories citizenship.

Barbosa moved to the Azores with his parents when he was 16, but returned to Bermuda around 2003, obtained a work permit and has lived on the island since.

In 2007, he married his wife, Christine, who was born in the Philippines, and Barbosa was granted indefinite leave to remain in Bermuda in 2013.

However, he remained ineligible to apply for Bermudian status – full citizenship – or a permanent resident’s certificate.

Monday’s Privy Council ruling upheld a November 2016 ruling by Bermuda’s Court of Appeal that overturned the guidance given earlier that year by Puisne Judge Stephen Hellman in the Supreme Court.