Attorney General urges immigration officers not to be intimidated by ruling
Sixteen months after the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruled against Barbados in the matter involving Jamaican Shanique Myrie, Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite is telling immigration officers not to be intimidated.
Stating that the ruling appeared to have left some officers “shell-shocked”, the minister told officers to discharge their responsibilities “fearlessly” within the laws of Barbados.
He stressed that this was paramount to maintaining Barbados’ way of life.
“They should not and cannot execute their responsibilities looking over their shoulders worrying about whether or not Barbados will be sued. Therefore, CARICOM has offered some guidance in terms of this issue of the automatic six months entry into Barbados. The Solicitor General’s chambers has offered some guidance, [and] I know we’ve had some discussions with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Brathwaite said during debate on the Immigration (Amendment) Bill.
In 2013, the Trinidad-based CCJ ruled that Myrie should be awarded around $75,000 in damages after she alleged that she was discriminated against by immigration officers in Barbados in March 2011 due to her nationality.
The Jamaican told the court she was subjected to a body cavity search, detained overnight in a cell and deported the following day.
Myrie received compensation from Barbados last June.
However, Brathwaite told legislators that,”notwithstanding, what is said in the judgment, no one in Trinidad [or outside this country] can determine what our national security considerations [are].”
“We have a responsibility as the elected members of Parliament and part of our responsibility is to secure our borders and, therefore, we should not water down what we do because we are afraid of what people might say outside the region, in the region about being sued.”
While stressing that he was not encouraging immigration officers to break the laws, the Home Affairs Minister maintained that they must carry out their duties.
“I am saying and I am encouraging them when individuals come in front of them, do not be afraid to interrogate them. Yes, there is a six months automatic entry, but you must ask the questions. How can you determine whether or not a person is able to provide for himself if he says he’s here for three weeks? How can you determine if he’s able to provide for himself for three weeks if you don’t ask him how is he going to survive?” he asked.
Brathwaite, the Government’s chief legal advisor, also sounded a warning against people who have been attempting to intimidate immigration officers.
He disclosed that some had even resorted to waiting outside the Grantley Adams International Airport to curse them.
“We will not tolerate that. We will not tolerate the abuse of our immigration officers and they must be able to go about their duties fearlessly and we would provide whatever mechanisms to make sure they are protected,” he vowed.