government: parliamentary; self-governing territory
state of civil and political rights:
constitution: 8 June 1968; amended 1989 and 2003
legal system: based on English common law
legislative system: bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate and the House of Assembly
judicial system: Supreme Court; Court of Appeal; Magistrate Courts
religion: Anglican 23%, Roman Catholic 15%, other Protestant 18%, other
year of last executions: 0-0-0
death sentences: 0
international treaties on human rights and the death penalty:
The death penalty was abolished in 2000. The last execution was carried out in 1977, when two men, Buck Burrows and Larry Tacklyn, were hanged. Tacklyn maintained his innocence to the very end, whilst Burrows refused legal representation. He was found guilty of five murders, including that of the territory’s governor, of which Tacklyn was also suspected but not convicted.
The 1970s were a time of strong political tension in Bermuda and people took to the streets following the execution of the two men. Britain, the colonial power, sent in troops to quell the turmoil.
In 2002 Bermuda became an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom, changing status from a Dependent Territory, along with five other Atlantic and Caribbean territories (British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Anguilla, and Montserrat). All of these have abolished capital punishment. The issue of independence is a recurrent theme. A referendum in 1995 rejected independence by a good margin, but in 2004 the Bermuda Independence Commission was set up to debate it.