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To the court

Chief Immigration Officer Erine Griffith visiting detention centre today.

by Latoya Burnham

The Chief Immigration Officer, Erine Griffith, visited Raul Garcia’s new locale today, but this evening it was uncertain whether the man himself actually saw or met with her.

His attorney, David Comissiong told Barbados TODAY that he had received no indication of a visit from Garcia when he visited him this evening, which would suggest that he never saw her.

A Barbados TODAY photographer however, was on location when the chief arrived with two other immigration officers at the Garrison, St. Michael house around 11:30 a.m. and when she left about 15 minutes later.

For his part, Comissiong said he was not notified and was in fact still awaiting word from Griffith following their acrimonious meeting yesterday morning on Garcia’s living conditions.

“I just came from visiting him,” said the lawyer, shortly before 5 this evening, “and he did not mention anything about a visit. You have to understand that where he is, she could go and he not be aware.

“He is locked away and the only connection is a reinforced door with an 18 inch square hole in the wall with a wire covering. He is locked away 23 hours of every day and he has told me that to deal with the isolation he has to be mentally strong,” said Comissiong.

The attorney said the only action now was indeed to take the matter to court for a decision and he was preparing the necessary documents.

“He is isolated 23 hours of every day and he is refused visitors. Even in relation to me who is permitted to visit him, there is a restriction of one hour.

“It has reached the point, I believe, where only a court can settle this and I intend to have the matter fully ventilated before the law courts, outlining everything that has happened since the end of his sentence on March 11, 2010 until today. I am in the process of preparing the court documents and consulting with other attorneys on it,” he said.

He said it was hard to believe that an attorney, meeting with his client would be subject to such restrictions as are being done in his case.

“I am also in the process of writing to the Chief Justice and the President of the Bar Association about these regulations,” said Comissiong, who argued that the chief immigration officer was being allowed to operate like “a law unto herself”.

“It is outrageous and mind-boggling that this is the level we have sunk to… It is almost as if attempting to denigrate and humiliate him and I cannot understand why it is necessary. It reflects badly on our authorities,” said the lawyer, who noted he would continue to visit Garcia as often as he could as well as to prepare the necessary affidavits.

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