Local residents with families who fell prey to historic land grabs in Bermuda have been invited to make their cases known to the Commission of Inquiry, headed up by retired Puisne Judge Norma Wade-Miller.
The inquiry will investigate property thefts at a series of public hearings to be held later this year.
According to the notice published on Wednesday, the commission urged residents to submit evidence or information on “historic losses of citizens’ property in Bermuda through theft of property, dispossession of property, adverse possession claims and/or such other unlawful or irregular means by which land was lost in Bermuda”.
Anyone who wants to give evidence to the commission, or present relevant information, should make an application to the Secretary of the Commission at Sofia House on Church Street, or, alternatively, by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 16.
The commission will decide on how it will proceed at the Cricket Pavilion on the National Sports Centre North Field on March 19.
This inquiry was the end result of a motion put forward by the late Progressive Labour Party MP Walton Brown, to look into all claims of property loss or dispossession, which was passed in the House of in 2014.
Justice Wade-Miller will be joined by lawyers Lynda Milligan-Whyte and Maxine Binns, business manager Frederica Forth, Wayne Perinchief, a former PLP MP, environmentalist Jonathan Starling and Quinton Stovell Jr, a land surveyor.
Premier David Burt formally announced the appointment of this new commission in November 2019
Speaking in the Lower House on November 1, he also explained the scope of the inquiry as follows:
1. Inquire into historic losses of citizens’ property in Bermuda through theft of property, dispossession of property, adverse possession claims, and/or such other unlawful or irregular means by which land was lost in Bermuda;
2. Collect and collate any and all evidence and information available relating to the nature and extent of such historic losses of citizens’ property;
3. Prepare a list of all land to which such historic losses relate;
4. Identify any persons, whether individuals or bodies corporate, responsible for such historic losses of citizens’ property;
References to other agencies
Refer, as appropriate, matters to the Director of Public Prosecutions for such further action as may be determined necessary by that Office.
AND I DIRECT that the inquiry shall commence as soon as is practicable from the date of this appointment and shall be conducted in Hamilton, Bermuda or any other locations(s) which the Commission may consider necessary or appropriate in furtherance of the inquiry, and at such times as they may deem appropriate.
AND I FURTHER DIRECT that the Commission shall submit findings and recommendations to the Premier within forty weeks of the date of appointment or such longer period as the Premier may from time to time direct.
AND I FURTHER DIRECT that, without prejudice to the powers granted to the Commission under the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1935, the Commission shall conduct such parts of the inquiry that it may deem appropriate in camera.
AND I FURTHER DIRECT that the Commission shall exercise all such powers as may be necessary for the purposes of this inquiry and as may lawfully be exercised by the said Commission.
GIVEN under my hand this 31st day of October 2019.
- Seated: Premier Burt, Justice Norma Wade-Miller, Mr.Wayne Perinchief. Standing: Ms Maxine Binns, Mr Jonathan Starling, Ms Frederica Forth, Ms Lynda Milligan-Whyte. Missing from photo – Mr Quinton Stovell