Not so fast
by Emmanuel Joseph
in Port of Spain
The lead attorney for Jamaican Shanique Myrie was subjected to intense questioning as she delivered her final submission before a hushed and packed Caribbean Court of Justice at its headquarters in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago this morning.
As Michelle Brown sought to rest her case essentially on a 2007 CARICOM Heads of Government Conference which agreed that all Caribbean nationals were entitled to an automatic stay in a member state, the seven-member panel of judges expressed concern about – what this really meant.
One judge told Brown that it did not make sense that a person could simply enter a CARICOM country and be given six months, when they only needed two weeks.
The various justices also noted the proviso in that conference decision, which gave the immigration officer the discretion to refuse entry if the person was undesirable or would be a charge on the public purse – that is, nothing having sufficient money to support their period of stay.
The lawyer was also asked to give a definition of an undesirable person.
However, she could not, only to reply that the Barbados Immigration Act provided guidelines.
Brown also conceded that the conference did not reflect a definition either, but that states were currently seeking to “flesh out” a harmonised law to cover this and other matters.
The judges were also worried about whether Myrie had identified the police constable who she alleged had subjected her to a body cavity search in a bathroom at Grantley Adams International Airport on March 14, 2011.
One of the judges reminded the claimant’s attorney that she had, in an earlier submission, said such a search was a criminal act.
She was pressed to have her address the issue of identification or description of the officer accused of the personal search.
“Did she at any stage identify Police Constable Carrington as the person who searched her?” asked one of the justices.
“A verbal note was not made of it,” Brown replied, adding that the officer was pointed out when she came to the witness stand in Barbados.
Pressed further on this issue, the lawyer agreed that no part of the written transcript contained Myrie’s identification of the police officer.
The lawyer did say though that in her witness statement the claimant had said Carrington and her colleague Constable Everton Gittens were the only two persons who had questioned her upstairs of the airport before the female officer took her to a bathroom and carried out, what Myrie charged was a body cavity search.
The Jamaican woman’s legal counsel has asked the court to believe her client’s account of the events of March 14, 2011, when she claimed she was subjected to a cavity search after being denied entry, taken to an unsanitary detention centre and deported the next day.
She also asked the CCJ to accept Myrie as being credible when she gave consistent details in her witness statement, her story to the police in Jamaica and her statement to her, as her lawyer.
However, Brown admitted that where Myrie had made errors in her statements, she conceded to doing so.
The claimant’s attorney suggested that the tribunal attached this to her credibility.
She asked that the court believe that Pamela Clarke was the person with whom Myrie was going to stay in Barbados and not Daniel Forde, as testified earlier in Bridgetown by Clarke.
Brown also submitted that the CCJ examine the testimonies of constables Carrington and Forde, whose “unsworn and unsigned” statements she suggested, were not properly taken.
In fact, she wanted the justices to find that both statements were almost identical “word for word”.
This, the attorney insisted, was tantamount to collusion that “something had happened” at Grantley Adams International Airport on the day in question in a wash room, and that Carrington was “cocky and confident”.
In these circumstances, Brown has asked the regional tribunal to find that such a “collusion” implied a cover up.