Is it ‘better’ to be stuck in Bermuda than stuck in Guantanamo?

The Royal Gazette has published a number of articles today to coincide with the 8th anniversary of the arrival in Bermuda of four Uighur men in Bermuda, after Dr. Ewart Brown, the Premier at the time, made the decision to accept their re-location from Guanatanamo Bay, at the apparent request of the Barack Obama administration.

One of the articles concludes with the following quotation from Dr. Ewart Brown, who agreed to be interviewed by the newspaper on the subject:

As I have told them personally, it surely is not what I thought it was going to be for them, but it’s better than Guantánamo“.

It would be quite hard to argue with the basic proposition that the daily quality of life associated with ‘freedom’ in Bermuda is anything but better than indefinite detention without trial in Guantanamo Bay.

But in both scenarios, of course, the four Uighur men are stuck, stateless, and unable to travel internationally, unless and until they are given a formal status, passports, and travel documentation.

And these are matters that Dr. Ewart Brown was, and remains, powerless to provide absent UK government agreement and assistance, given Bermuda’s status as a British Overseas Territory rather than an independent, sovereign nation.

Although the four Uighurs are legally represented locally in Bermuda, and it is certainly possible that progress is being made behind the scenes as between the UK Home Office, the Governor and their lawyers, one might legitimately ask the question whether or not a ‘better’ and more permanent solution might have been found if the White House and Dr. Ewart Brown had gone through the conventional, lawful, and proper Constitutional channels when seeking to promote their lawful acceptance in and by Bermuda.

But as Presidents and Prime Ministers all around the world seem to say time and again, it is jolly inconvenient trying to get something done quickly and decisively, if one has to waste time with checks and balances …

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