Larry Marshall Sr, Founder of BAD – Bermudians Against the Draft

A big sigh of relief today from the man behind Bermudians Against the Draft (BAD), who led the fight spanning more than a decade to end conscription in Bermuda’s Royal Bermuda Regiment (RBR).

When contacted by Bermuda Real for his initial reaction, Larry Marshall Sr said: “On June 22, 2018, conscription finally came to an end after 53 long years.

“To God be the glory for the great things he has done!”

The case, which all the way to the privy council, still hangs a dark cloud of debt over Mr Marshall’s family.

Looking back, he said: “It has been a long struggle but worth it considering the magnitude of human rights abuses perpetuated by this system over the past five decades. Because of the 1965 Defence Act the regiment was able to legally trample upon the rights of young men. 

“First on the list of abuses was of course forced labour the most egregious violation. That will no longer be allowed and as a consequence young men, especially young black men, who were disproportionately drafted by design, will now enjoy the same human rights as everyone else. And make no mistake this is a victory for human rights. 

“That’s irrespective of the deafening silence from the Human Rights Commission, who have displayed an astonishing level of hypocrisy regarding this issue. This is a victory of right over wrong! Of good over evil!

RBR Soldiers leaving on Caribbean Hurricane Relief Mission on Friday

“Minister of National Security Wayne Caines summed it up in the House when he stated that because of the abolition of conscription, BAD had been vindicated.

“In other words, we were right, which has been our position over the past 13 years.”

And during the course of those 13 years, Mr Marshall chastised former Premier Michael Dunkley, for promising to end conscription under the former One Bermuda Alliance administration, then failed to take it off the books completely.

Mr Dunkley, released the following summary of his comments during the House debate on the Defence Amendment Act 2018 to Bermuda Real on Friday: 

♦ Today the House took steps to end conscription with the passage of the Defence Amendment Act 2018 in the House.
This process actually commenced in 2014 when the OBA Government confirmed its intention to abolish conscription which was communicated in the Throne Speech in November 2013.
While both the former OBA Government and the current PLP Government can take credit for this move it should also be acknowledged that the group Bermudians Against the Draft (BAD) had a significant impact on the amendment passed today.
The National Security and Defence Review commissioned in 2013 under the OBA Government has proven to be an important document towards a more secure Bermuda.
In that report it was recommend a phased approach to the abolition of conscription with the Regiment transitioning from a volunteer force supplemented by conscription (if needed) to an all-volunteer force over a time frame that preserves those national defence, internal security and disaster relief aspects provided by the Regiment, currently or in the future.
Conscription was a backdrop that the OBA never wanted to use but accepted the advice of the Review.
History now shows that no one was conscripted during this “phasing” period.
Moving forward it is critical that we support the Royal Bermuda Regiment so they can always obtain the manpower required to fulfill their mandate; with changing roles and new responsibility as referred to by the Minister with the newly developed strategic plan.
This can be greatly helped by an effective recruiting strategy based on advertising and promotion of the RBR, financial incentives and a deep interaction with the community to influence potential recruits.