KINGSTON: Jamaican Shanique Myrie is elated with the decision of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that awarded her damages of over $US38,000 for unjust treatment by Barbados immigration officials when she sought to enter that country in 2011.
Myrie said she is excited about the ruling and believes it will encourage people to stand up for themselves.
“We all are one people and I don’t want them to treat anybody different,” she said. “Whenever something happens to you, you can speak out for your rights.”
Myrie reiterated her intentions to never visit Barbados again but said she would not discourage others from visiting that island.
“It’s not the people in Barbados that is the problem, it’s just the airport that needs to be cleaned up,” she said, referring to the immigration officials at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA).
Myrie claimed she was verbally abused by immigration officers, subjected to a body cavity search and illegally denied entry into the island when she arrived at GAIA on March 14, 2011. In addition to seeking up to $1 million and apology for how she was treated, Myrie asked the CCJ to determine the minimum standard of treatment applicable to CARICOM citizens moving within the region under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and requested that further investigations be carried out to identify the individuals who assaulted and detained her, with a view to prosecuting them criminally.
Last week, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruled that evidence Myrie presented was compelling enough for them to award her BD$2,240 in pecuniary damages and BD$75,000 in non-pecuniary damages.
However, the CCJ dismissed claims that Myrie was discriminated against solely because of her nationality. It also ordered that Barbados alter its laws to be in harmony with the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which speaks to the free movement of Caribbean nationals throughout CARICOM.
“My first reaction…is that in principle it has been a victory for Myrie and Jamaica because it has validated her claims and that was indeed the objective, said Jamaica’s High Commissioner to Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados, Sharon Saunders. “The award of damages that was secondary and in fact her costs will be met by the amounts announced. This I think is a landmark judgment and the court has been very fair. Of course in any court the burden is on evidence and clearly the court deliberated long and hard and this I think is an extremely good outcome.”