Barbados to answer charges against Jamaican woman
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Friday April 20, 2012 – The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has given Jamaican Shanique Myrie permission to begin proceedings against the Barbados government following an encounter with a Barbadian Immigration Officer last year.
It was on March 14 last year that Ms. Myrie alleged that she was subjected to a painful cavity search by an immigration officer just after her arrival at the Grantley Adams International Airport, where she was insulted and later denied entry to the country.
When the matter was called before the CCJ headed by Sir Dennis Byron, and convened in Barbados on Wednesday, Ms. Myrie and and her legal team were given 21 days to file the necessary documents to bring the case against Barbados.
Ms. Myrie, represented by the legal team led by Michelle Browne, is charging that her rights as a CARICOM citizen were abused after she was denied entry and discriminated against because she was a Jamaican.
According to reports she also wants the court to decide if she was given the minimum standard of treatment due to CARICOM nationals moving within the region under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME).
During her arguments, Ms. Brown indicated that her client was subjected to “forceful brutish language” by immigration officials at the GAIA on her arrival. The attorney also contended that Ms. Myrie was threatened with imprisonment and forced to hold over while a cavity search was conducted on her.
“She has suffered direct and indirect discrimination,” Ms. Brown said while describing the decision of immigration officials as arbitrary and unjustifiable.
The attorney told the court during the sitting which was streamed live on the Internet, that her client arrived in Barbados and gave the name of the person who she intended to stay with during her visit to the island, and indicated that she had sufficient funds for her planned one-month stay.
She added that there was no justification for the level of intrusion faced by Ms Myrie, especially as it was initially claimed that she was a victim of human trafficking. Ms. Browne told the packed courtroom that it was government’s role to protect the Jamaican woman and not brutalise her.
“They searched every place they could have searched, and they found nothing,” she said. She added: “It was illegal, it was vulgar. The applicant is still not sure what it is she has done wrong,” the attorney said.
Queen’s Counsel Roger Forde, appearing on behalf of the Barbados government, responded to the arguments.
The case will likely be heard in July or August in either Trinidad or Barbados by the five-member CCJ panel that was established in 2001.