PORT-OF-SPAIN: Lawyers for a Jamaican woman who claimed that their client was discriminated against because of her nationality when she travelled to Barbados two years ago have called for substantial compensation as closing arguments were presented at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
Attorney Michelle Brown told the six-member CCJ panel of judges that the regional court should also lay down firm guidelines pertaining to the treatment of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nationals at airports throughout the 15-member regional grouping. The CCJ also acts as a special tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs CARICOM.
Shanique Myrie, 25, alleged that when she travelled to Barbados on March 14, 2011 she was discriminated against because of her nationality, subjected to a body cavity search, detained overnight in a cell and deported to Jamaica the following day.
Myrie also claimed that she was subjected to derogatory remarks by a Barbadian immigration officer at the Grantley Adams International Airport and is asking the CCJ to determine the minimum standard of treatment applicable to CARICOM citizens moving around the region.
On September 27, 2012 Jamaica was granted leave to intervene in the matter.
The CCJ, established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court, held sittings in Jamaica and Barbados. During her closing arguments, Brown urged the judges to believe Myrie’s testimony because the alleged victim had remained consistent throughout the process of the hearing before the CCJ.
Brown said that more than two years since the incident, her client is still suffering from anxiety, crying and other physical manifestations from the trauma associated with her visit to Barbados and she should be adequately compensated.
Brown told the CCJ that it was one thing to refuse Myrie entry, but detaining her was another matter and, as a result, she should be awarded moral and punitive damages of almost one million Barbados dollars. The lawyer said that the award would include US$400,000 in general damages, and $178,000 in Jamaican dollars for special damages and legal costs.
The attorney is also contending that the evidence given by Barbados police officers, Everton Gittens and Seraphine Carrington was untruthful.
Brown described the officers as uncooperative and cocky. She also claimed they colluded in their reports and that the evidence amounted to letters written to the Commissioner of Police not sworn or taken under oath.
Brown argued that despite Myrie’s traumatic experience, her description of the rooms, including the bathrooms at the Grantley Adams International Airport, were accurate based on what was seen by the Court during their walk-through at the facility.
As of press time, a ruling has not been reached.