Lawyers want almost one million Barbados dollars damages in Myrie case

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.

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 last year, 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, and Brown, as she made her closing arguments, urged the judges  to completely believe the entire testimony of Myrie because the woman’s evidence had remained consistent and accurate throughout the process of the hearing before the CCJ.

She told the CCJ that it was one thing to refuse  Myrie entry, but it was another thing to detain her, and as a result she should be awarded moral and punitive damages of almost one million Barbados dollars (one Barbados dollar = US$0.50 cents).

The lawyer said that the award would include US$400,000 in general damages; J$178,000 (one Jamaica dollar = US$0.01 cents) in special damages as well as legal costs.

She asked the court to use the recent case involving the Trinidad Cement Limited TCL Guyana and the Caribbean Community as its precedent by using the four guidelines outlined in that case to award the compensation.

The CCJ also acts as a special tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-member regional grouping.

Brown said that 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 as such she should be adequately compensated.

The attorney is also contending that there is “huge cover up” by the Barbados police officers Everton Gittens and Seraphine Carrington and urged the court to rule that the evidence given by them was untruthful.

She described the officers as uncooperative, cocky, confident, and that 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 also 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

Brown also called on the court to accept Myrie’s testimony that she was subjected to an illegal cavity search and that she had accurately [identified] Carrington and Gittens as the two officers who dealt with her.

The attorney said that in keeping with the decision by CARICOM leaders in 2007, the claimant had a right to enter Barbados and should have been granted an automatic stay of six months.

She also argued that Barbados is not living up to the spirit of that conference decision by only granting CARICOM nationals a three month stay instead of six months.

Brown said Myrie’s fundamental human rights were breached, claiming that such rights are attended to her under Community law recognised by each member state.

Attorney for the Jamaica government, the intervener in the case, Dr Kathy Ann Brown told the CCJ that CARICOM is trying to reach the stage of the European Union regarding borderless movements.

The case continues today.

Reprinted from Caribbean360




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