Immigration abuse allegation to go before CARICOM
The Jamaica government will be taking up the issue of treatment of its nationals at the CARICOM level, following allegations by a Jamaican woman that she was sexually and verbally abused by immigration officials in Barbados.
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Monday March 28, 2011 – An allegation by a Jamaican woman that she was sexually and verbally abused by immigration officers in Barbados before being denied entry into the country has triggered a decision by the Jamaica government to take the matter of mistreatment of its nationals in neighbouring countries to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, Dr Kenneth Baugh confirmed that the matter would be raised when the Community Council, the second highest decision-making body in CARICOM, meets in Belize this week.
And noting that it was not just about Barbados, he also appealed to Jamaicans to inform the government when they experience any unfair treatment in other countries.
"They can call the ministry, write a report and send the information to us. I’ve asked my Permanent Secretary to document all the information so that when I go to the Community Council meeting I can give documentary reports,” Dr Baugh said.
Jamaican Shanique Myrie claimed that she had to endure a cavity search and was verbally abused when she arrived at the Grantley Adams International Airport on March 14. In interviews with the Jamaican media last week, she said a female immigration officer took her into a room and instructed her to bend over and, using gloved fingers, began to probe her vagina, all the while making anti-Jamaican comments.
“I asked her who she was and she said 'I am your worst nightmare'. She then said 'All you (expletive) Jamaicans come here to do is either steal people's man or bring drugs here,” Myrie told the press at home. "She said I hate these (expletive) Jamaicans.”
Myrie said her luggage was also searched and she was placed overnight in a holding area at the airport and sent back to Jamaica the following day.
The woman insisted that she had gone to Barbados to visit a female friend, but Parliamentary Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, Harry Husbands, said that the woman was suspected of being a victim of human trafficking.
“Shanique Myrie, on arrival in Barbados, claimed she would have been staying with a female resident, but a closer investigation revealed she was actually staying with a Barbadian man who actually facilitates the entry of non-nationals into the island,” Husbands told the Nation newspaper in Barbados.
“Wherever these cases of facilitating are discovered, regardless of what country the individual is coming from, whether it be a CARICOM country or an extraregional country, that person is denied entry.”
Husbands also said there was no record of Myrie being searched.
However, the Jamaican insisted that she has been telling the truth and has threatened to sue the authorities in Barbados.
"I went to visit Mrs Pamela Clarke. When I arrived at the airport they asked me who I came to and I gave them her number. They called her and she told them she wasn't feeling well and had sent a man called Daniel to pick me up. They asked me about Daniel and I told them I did not know him. I have no reason to lie. They are the ones that are lying," she told the Observer newspaper.
Meantime, Jamaica’s Minister of National Security Senator Dwight Nelson has written to Public Defender Earl Witter to look into the matter.
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