Antigua – CCJ cites Myrie case as its flagship
ST JOHN’S –– The precedent setting Shanique Myrie case has been branded as the highlight of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.
A decision in the case brought by Myrie, a Jamaican, against the Barbados Government, was handed down in October, 2013.
“There are many things which are highlights,” CCJ president Sir Dennis Byron told the Observer, before adding: “I have to say the Myrie judgment.”
In the landmark case, the CCJ held that CARICOM nationals were entitled to enter member states, without harassment or the imposition of impediment, and to stay for up to six months. The ruling also gave guidelines for interpretation of the Revised Treaty Of Chaguaramas, under which the right to free movement is derived.
Now, member states must give the refused person written reasons for the refusal and also advise them of their entitlement to access meaningful judicial review.
Sir Dennis said the judgment “attracted the widest public interest” and that’s why he saw it as one of the highlights for the court of the last decade.
He said the Myrie case helped “people see the court as an institution which gave a voice to ordinary people”.
“One of the pertinent issues that Myrie has done is to provide assurance to the ordinary citizens of the Caribbean region, that the Caribbean Court of Justice provides an opportunity for them to get redress.”
Myrie was awarded US$38,000 after being deported from Barbados in March, 2011. She told the court she was subjected to a dehumanizing cavity search by a female immigration officer at Grantley Adams International Airport, in Barbados, and locked in a filthy room overnight.
Sir Dennis told the Observer: “We have told the public that if any of you suffer a similar breach of your rights, you have a forum where you can get justice.”
According to the CCJ president, his assessment is that “our decision has had a benefit on the way business is done on the region”.
He said the fact that a case of a similar nature had not been brought to the CCJ could mean that “people’s rights are not being breached in the same way”.
Since the ruling, several CARICOM states have made the necessary changes to their domestic laws that would give effect to the free movement under the Revised Treaty Of Chaguaramas.
Myrie instituted proceedings in May, 2012, alleging that Barbados had violated her right to free movement within CARICOM.
Myrie had also claimed that she was subjected to discrimination on the ground of her nationality when Barbadian officials refused her entry into Barbados, but the CCJ dismissed that claim.