Senator Michael Fahy added: “It is regrettable that appellants’ lives have been held in abeyance for such an extended period as a result of the failure of the former administration to ensure that the legislative process was completed in accordance with constitutional requirements." *File photo
Senator Michael Fahy added: “It is regrettable that appellants’ lives have been held in abeyance for such an extended period as a result of the failure of the former administration to ensure that the legislative process was completed in accordance with constitutional requirements." *File photo

More than 40 people have been waiting for an immigration appeal tribunal for up to nearly two years, a Minister told Senate today.

Now former Attorney General and Philip Perinchief has been signed up by the Attorney General’s Chambers to deal with the backlog.

The immigration rules were changed in August, 2011 after a judge ruled an appeal to a special Cabinet committee was unconstitutional – but Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy said that rules for an independent tribunal had not been drawn up until February this year.

He told Senators: “The issue: No rules, no functioning immigration appeal tribunal and the lives of the appellants placed on hold – that is unacceptable.

“This failure has resulted in the huge backlog of cases that will undoubtedly be dealt with at a considerable cost to the Bermuda Government.

Cost

“These costs include legal fees and the retention of dedicated resources to clear the backlog. In recognizing the mounting costs and the injustice in the failure to adjudicate the appeals, this Government moved quickly to take the necessary corrective action to address the matter.”

Sen. Fahy added: “It is regrettable that appellants’ lives have been held in abeyance for such an extended period as a result of the failure of the former administration to ensure that the legislative process was completed in accordance with constitutional requirements.

“It is important that there is faith in Government to handle such matters fairly and expeditiously and that is why we have moved to correct these injustices.”

By May this year, the list of cases had grown to 44.

Sen. Fahy said: “By April 2013, in my capacity as Minister for Home Affairs, every case file had been considered and in instances where grave errors of justice were in the decision-making process, as applied by previous Ministers, these decisions were over-turned and matters related to costs were agreed with each appellants’ legal counsel.”

He added: “It is expected that the backlog of cases currently awaiting consideration of the Immigration Appeal Tribunal will be dealt with in the coming months.”

Mr Perinchief will be retained on a short-term contract to address outstanding case work and clear the backlog.