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Never knew Myrie

by Emmanuel Joseph

Shanique Myrie with one of her laywers Michelle Brown.

Shanique Myrie with one of her laywers Michelle Brown.

The immigration officer who recommended that Jamaican Shanique Myrie be refused entry into Barbados on March 14, 2011, told the Caribbean Court of Justice sitting in Bridgetown this morning, it was because she was a first-timer to the island, and that she met her local host on the Internet.

Under cross examination by Nancy Anderson, the lead attorney on Myrie’s legal team, Alicia Young testified that once she had determined those two reasons, which are part of the requirements for entry, she referred the matter to her supervisor, a Merlo Reid, for the actual refusal.

Young was the second new witness called on day two today before the CCJ, which is hearing a case where the Jamaican woman is alleging that Barbadian border officials not only denied her entry because of her nationality, but breached certain of her fundamental rights and freedoms, including subjecting her to a body cavity search at Grantley Adams International Airport.

A visibly nervous Young, who was “drilled” by Anderson and some of the judges, gave evidence that her duties included interviewing arriving passengers to determine if they met the requirements to enter Barbados.

Asked what she looked at to make that determination, the witness replied the immigration form and the passport. The immigration officer also testified that she decided who would qualify to enter Barbados.

“I don’t refuse, I refer to the supervisor … and let him know the situation.”

Young said that on the day in question, she took Myrie to the supervisor’s office, which was in the arrivals hall area, and put her to stay in the waiting area. She noted that after she referred the issue to the supervisor, she left the claimant in the office and returned to her booth.

Questioned why an arriving passenger would be referred to the supervisor, the immigration officer told the court, if the host was not of good repute or if they did not have a return ticket or sufficient funds.

The witness said she was not instructed to treat CARICOM nationals differently to others, when making referrals.

As the cross examination intensified, Young at times shook her head to questions or whispered her responses, to the point where some of the judges urged her to speak up.

The immigration card, which was read into evidence by Myrie’s lawyer, showed that Myrie possessed US$300 to stay in Barbados for two weeks and the address recorded on that document was Hillaby, St. Andrew.

At the bottom of the card, †a hand-written note said “in care of Pamela Clarke”, which the immigration officer told the CCJ she was responsible for writing.

Young said she was satisfied with all the information on the immigration form, but rejected suggestions by the claimant’s lawyer that she did not have cause to refer Myrie to her supervisor.

In response to one of the justices, the witness later admitted she was acting on instructions that if a visitor said they had met their host on the Internet he or she should be referred to the supervisor.

The immigration officer also informed the tribunal that “Internet hosts happen frequently and they are referred”.

This witness will return to the stand tomorrow morning, when the sitting resumes in the Number One Supreme Court.

Another new state witness who testified this morning was, Pamela Clarke, the same woman whose name was written on Myrie’s immigration card as the one with whom she would stay.

However, when lead state lawyer Roger Forde QC, asked Clarke to respond to earlier evidence given by Myrie that she spoke with her, but when the claimant could not understand her (Clarke), a female known as Shika interpreted.

“I don’t know anyone name Shika,” Clarke declared.

The state witness also testified she never invited Shanique Myrie to Barbados, she was not coming to stay with her and she never communicated with her on the telephone or the Internet.

In fact, Clarke noted she did not even have an email address although she had Internet access, which she was now trying to “handle”. However, she told the court she was doing her friend, Daniel Forde, a senior government environmental officer a favour in facilitating Myrie on her arrival at the airport.

Clarke conceded that Forde, whom she referred to as “Danny”, was her close friend, even now, and that he had told her a female friend was coming to him from Jamaica. She admitted that while Myrie was not coming to reside at her, she agreed that Forde could give the Jamaican woman her telephone number, name and address, in case she was having problems on arrival at the Grantley Adams International Airport.

“I was expecting a call (from Myrie) if she was having problems at the airport. If Danny wasn’t there, or she couldn’t find him, I would try to reach him cause I have all his numbers,” testified Clarke.

Under further cross examination, she said she would not have been surprised if Myrie had called her from the airport, but was not comfortable with the police calling her.

The witness informed the tribunal she received three calls from different police officers on that day, but was not sure if any of them told her they were interviewing Myrie for drugs.

The court also recalled Police Sergeant Vernon Farrell and Systems Manager at the airport, Ian Best.

Farrell was cross examined on statements he took from Daniel Forde and Shakira Rowe, while Best was asked to clarify if the camera located in the secure area of the immigration department, recorded video on March 14, 2011.

Best testified that considering some uncertainty in his evidence yesterday, after having time to reflect, he was in a position to advise the court today that the camera was in fact, not recording on the day in question.

The reason, he added, was that there was a host of issues regarding the installation of cameras in some parts of the airport and the seaport and which resulted in requests to stop recordings.

In seeking to amplify the issue, state attorney Roger Forde told the CCJ the stopping of recordings related to an industrial matter with the union representing workers in the immigration and customs divisions.†††††††

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