Report: Myrie sex assault claim warrants full probe
After a Jamaican team visited Barbados to look into allegations made against immigration officials at the Grantley Adams International Airport, Foreign Minister Dr. Ken Baugh says Myrie’s complaint is deserving of a full investigation.
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Friday April 8, 2011 – Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Ken Baugh says a report from the delegation which visited Barbados last week to look into Shanique Myrie’s allegations against immigration officials, has concluded that there are widespread perceptions of negative attitudes in that country towards Jamaicans and that the woman’s claim is deserving of the fullest investigation.
Minister Baugh said both he and Prime Minister Bruce Golding have accepted the findings.
He also revealed that details of the Jamaican report were shared with Myrie’s lawyers to assist them in determining how best to proceed on her behalf.
While in Barbados, the four-member delegation toured detention facilities at the airport and met with the Jamaican community.
“Meetings between the full Jamaican delegation and high officials of the Barbadian delegation, a tour of the detention facilities at the Grantley Adams International Airport and a well-attended meeting with the Jamaican community in Barbados, led the delegation to the unanimous conclusion that there are widespread perceptions of negative attitudes towards Jamaicans and that Miss Myrie’s report was deserving of the fullest investigation,” Dr. Baugh said, although noting that the Barbadian delegation stressed there was no discrimination or prejudice against Jamaicans.
“Clearly, due process can only be served when Miss Myrie is afforded the opportunity to identify the persons who interrogated her,” he added, noting the Barbados’ Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Maxine McClean has already indicated she would welcome the Jamaican woman returning for the purpose of pursuing further investigations.
Dr Baugh said consultations are still ongoing on the course of action that should be pursued.
“It must be clearly understood that the Government of Jamaica takes very seriously its responsibility to protect and defend the rights of its citizens. Miss Myrie’s case will be pursued on its own merit and so will other cases which have been reported to my Ministry,” he said.
The Foreign Affairs Minister said Jamaica and its Caribbean Community (CARICOM) partners must frankly confront any unacceptable intra-regional attitude and action which undermine the very fabric of Community.
“It is not an overstatement to say that the entire CARICOM project could be injured by a refusal to deal with these matters with the frankness and honesty worthy of a Community where mutual trust and respect are essential to the achievement of the objectives of the region,” he said.
Meantime, Jamaica has also called on the Barbados authorities to withdraw what it said was an erroneous statement linking Myrie to human trafficking between the two countries.
Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator Harry Husbands, had made the link in seeking to give what he said was the real reason for Myrie being denied entry to Barbados on March 14.
The Jamaican has insisted that she was sexually assaulted and verbally abused by a female immigration officer when she arrived in Barbados that day.
She said the immigration officer took her into a room at the airport and instructed her to bend over. Myrie said that the woman, wearing a glove, probed her vagina, all the while making anti-Jamaican comments.
Myrie said the officer told her she hated Jamaicans and accused them of coming to Barbados to “either steal people's man or bring drugs here”.
The Jamaican said her luggage was also searched and she was placed overnight in a holding area at the airport and sent back home the following day.
Senator McClean had subsequently dismissed the allegations, saying that immigration and customs authorities investigated the claims of abuse and found them to be baseless.
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