Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Written Evidence

Submission by Sergio Lottimore, Bermuda


  The Bermuda Regiment prides itself on strong morals, values and civic duty. Yet the institution's selection process explicitly contradicts these very same values by humiliating, criminalizing and persecuting Bermuda's young males that choose not to participate in this organization. As a recent selectee, I find myself faced with the possibility of imprisonment and/or fines for violating an unfair and unjust edict. By violating my human rights through forced labour, sexism and ageism; I recommend that the Bermuda Regiment should modify its selection process in a manner that espouses the organization's stated ideals.

  I am a 22-year-old recent university graduate from McGill University. I graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree with concentrations in International Business and Strategic Management. I have subsequently returned home and have gained full employment at an international reinsurance company. In the fall, I will undertake courses to pursue a professional designation at the Bermuda Insurance Institute. I understand that each and every one of us has a civic responsibility to give back to their country. As a former Bermuda Government scholar, I fully understand the benefits of investing in the community and I have already committed to positively contributing to my island community. I have only been back in Bermuda for two months; therefore, I have only had limited contributions to my community thus far.

  One of my more notable roles has been working with my employer to establish a scholarship for Bermudian students seeking to study abroad. I also plan on becoming involved in the Bermuda Government Mirrors Programme, the Centre on Philanthropy and I will also participate in a local community sports club. These undertakings will come in due time and I am really looking forward to working in these organizations. The key concept to recognize is that it was my choice to join these organizations. I was neither forced nor threatened with disciplinary measures. Out of my own volition, I have chosen to commit my time to the associations that I feel I can contribute the most to. This path is mutually beneficial for myself, as well as my community. I can understand that some of my peers may not want to do anything at all—that is fine with me. I am not here to judge them and I respect their right to choose where they want to spend their time—this is a fundamental notion of any democracy. The Bermuda Regiment does not mesh well with these ideals; however, the institutions gross violation of human rights is perhaps the most grotesque aspect of its existence. The concept of conscription has received global condemnation from leaders for decades due to its "degradation of human personality and the destruction of liberty".[1]

  Ageism, sexism and Universal Declaration of Human Rights violations pervade the Bermuda Regiment selection process. If the Department of Defense believed so strongly in the learning environment at Warwick Camp, why is it that they do not extend these "privileges" to all of society including women and older, able-bodied people? If they deem these activities fit for young males, then surely it would be good for all members of society. The conscription policy also clearly violates numerous articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[2] I do believe that there is a role for a similar institution in Bermuda; however, the Bermuda Regiment currently does not satisfy the necessary functions that I think it should provide.

  One such function should be performing marine patrols to secure Bermuda's shores. Bermuda has a significant illicit drug problem—with 12 nautical miles of oceanic territory, there is no dedicated authority to monitor Bermuda's marine traffic. The Bermuda Regiment could potentially provide these forces in addition to more civil crisis response services. Apart from clearing roads after hurricanes, the Bermuda Regiment could provide disaster relief services similar to that of the Red Cross or the United States' Federal Emergency Management Agency. Implementing more of these necessary measures and eliminating many of the redundant military components will strengthen the Bermuda Regiment and make it a more attractive organization to civilians, particularly younger people. The current conscription scheme is what stands in the way of upgrading the Bermuda Regiment into a 21st century organization.

  The fact that the institution is automatically endowed with new recruits every year means that regimental authoritative figures do not have to do anything to attract a high quality, dedicated labour force. Ending mandatory military service will force the Bermuda Regiment to modify its current offering in order to entice more recruits. These modifications include, but are not limited to, implementing the recommendations above in addition to providing enhanced compensation and benefits. With more committed and qualified recruits, the Bermuda Regiment could become a leaner organization that fulfills all of its duties with minimal labour requirements. This would make it easier for the organization to meet its annual human resource quota. The only way this will happen is if conscription ends.

  The abolishment of conscription in Bermuda will lead to improved, more suitable services being performed by the Bermuda Regiment. As a democracy, Bermudians cannot accept a system that places an inequitable burden of Bermuda's shared civic responsibilities on the shoulders of the country's young males. We as a country must come together to develop an institution that will reflect the morals and values of our community—until that day comes, we will continue to produce young adult males who are discontent with a superfluous military organization.

29 July 2007

1   See Manifesto Against Conscription and the Military System. Back

2   See Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Back

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