Let’s pay Miss Myrie and be done!
No one would be more pleased than Jamaican Shanique Myrie to hear the fresh assurances offered today by our Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite that she will most definitely be paid this week.
It is easy to understand why to her it would seem like a case of waiting in vain since last October when the Trinidadian-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruled that Barbados had breached her right as a CARICOM national by denying her entry at Grantley Adams International Airport on March 14, 2011.
Barbados was also ordered to pay the equivalent of JAM$4 million to Miss Myrie –– BDS$75,000 for the ordeal she went through in the process of being denied entry and BDS$2,204 for loss of personal items.
However, the court stopped short of awarding Miss Myrie any damages for the alleged body cavity search, even though it acknowledged that the detention room at the airport was unsanitary. The regional tribunal also rejected the Jamaican woman’s claim that she was discriminated against only because she was Jamaican.
But that eight months to some can seem like a lifetime –– even if by legal settlement standards in the Caribbean it really is not.
We can understand therefore why Miss Myrie would be getting more than a bit anxious to see a settlement and to actually receive some cash in hand.
No doubt, she would be hearing about the economic problems Barbados is currently facing, highlighted by the state’s ongoing retrenchment programme that has seen public servants losing their jobs almost at a daily pace in recent months, while international agencies such as Moody’s and the IMF continue to raise alarm about our national deficit.
It is enough to make anyone who is owed money by the Government uncomfortable. Indeed, Miss Myrie must be feeling she needs to get her money now, before she loses out altogether on account of the protracted economic situation.
Still, we are bit surprised to see the level at which arguments for Miss Myrie to receive her pay have descended.
Barbados has never had a reputation for not paying its bills, even in the midst of trying economic times, and never before has there been any need
to apply coercion to get Barbados to honour its financial commitments. The island’s reputation in CARICOM and the world over will stand up to any such test or scrutiny. So too will the records of successive Governments –– be it DLP and BLP.
While there are many Caribbean governments who have over the years developed reputations for not honouring their commitments, not so with Barbados. And long shall this remain!
Indeed, our current Prime Minister, slow as he may be to act, is generally considered to be a man of his word. And on this same Myrie issue, he has already given his commitment and at no less a forum than at the Conference Of Heads Of Government of the Caribbean Community in St Vincent and the Grenadines earlier this year.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said then Barbados was committed to complying with the decision of the CCJ; so we never doubted that Miss Myrie would have been paid. That our leader has given his word, and based on our history of regional commitments where others are known to falter, it will happen.
Miss Myrie and her backers in Jamaica need not go the road of coercion to get Barbados to honour the judgment of the court.
In any case, Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs A.J. Nicholson was right in saying that the Jamaican government could not force Barbados to do anything as far as the judgment was concerned. It would be for the CCJ to apply any pressure as it sees fit on Bridgetown to enforce its judgment.
We therefore find it quite interesting to see how far the argument has gone in Jamaica to the point of a call, in the form of a Jamaica Gleaner commentary, for Miss Myrie to press her case even further and to “apply to the local courts to have a bailiff seize any property asset owned in Jamaica, or anywhere else in CARICOM, from the Barbados Government”.
Such a suggestion we feel is not only premature, but ill-advised at this stage.
To Jamaica, we say cool it a bit; and to Barbados, we say cut the cheque and let’s be done with it!
At the end of the day, there is a bigger mission at stake –– one that we need not forfeit or squander over a case that should never have been in the first place. After all, all of we is one!