Jamaican woman threatens to sue Immigration over airport treatment
In a case that brings back memories of the Shanique Myrie incident nearly five-and-a-half years ago, a Jamaican woman is planning to sue the Barbados Government over the treatment she received when she visited the island on Saturday.
Twenty-four-year-old Sonya King claims she and her 14-month-old baby were treated inhumanely by the Immigration Department when they attempted to enter the country for a holiday.
King told Barbados TODAY in a telephone interview, she and the baby arrived at Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) from Trinidad where she has lived for the past four years, and were denied entry by the immigration officer who told her she should have gone to Jamaica instead.
“I went to Counter 3, the immigration officer asked me who I came to, I told him I came to stay at the Meridian Inn. He asked me what was my purpose of my visit and I told him I am only here for a few days.
“I gave him me and my son’s passport . . . he paused for a while and he was looking through my passport and then told me he have to bring me inside to speak to the supervisor. When he brought me inside they put me in some chairs to sit and he spoke with the supervisor,” she recalled.
King said an hour later she was asked to sit outside where she waited for hours.
Hungry, and with a restless asthmatic baby, she asked for hot water to make the child some tea, and something for her to eat.
The Jamaican woman claimed the officer told her he could not help her as the food courts were closed, and advised her to get something from the vending machine for the child.
“The baby pampers were soaking wet, I wasn’t allowed to touch my suitcase and the baby started to get sleepy and frustrated,” she said.
The 24-year-old complained that things got much worse when she was given a dirty mattress on which to sleep in cold, uncomfortable conditions.
“The blanket was full of hair like other people were using it before. I use it to cover the baby because the place was really cold.”
She said the following morning the immigration officer revealed that she was not welcome in Barbados and would be returned to Trinidad.
“When they bring me outside I change the baby clothes fast and I still asking him for hot water, and he said, ‘there is no time for hot water, the flight leaving at 6 o’clock [and] they waiting for you by the gate,’” King recounted.
However, the circumstances changed after she boarded the aircraft, the Jamaica woman claimed.
She told Barbados TODAY she was escorted off the airplane by a security officer, and the immigration officer advised him to take her to the immigration desk where her denial was reversed and she was granted a two-day stay in Barbados.
King contended that as a result of the treatment she received, particularly the cold environment she and the baby were forced to endure, the child contracted a cold that triggered an asthma attack.
“I was really frustrated how they treat my baby. My baby is asthmatic, my baby was in the cold place and sitting on the mattress and whole day yesterday my son was coughing; whole day yesterday I had to give him the asthma pump.”
The change of heart by Immigration notwithstanding, King said she intended to pursue the matter legally, if only for the
“This happen to plenty other people and this has to come to an end. I am seeking to take legal action against them because my son should not have been treated this way,” she argued.
The Jamaican said the incident would not deter her from visiting Barbados again, as she received excellent treatment from the Meridan Inn where she stayed.
Three years ago the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) awarded Shanique Myrie S77,240 in damages after she successfully sued the Barbados Government.
The Jamaican had accused a female immigration officer at GAIA of finger-raping her before she was sent back to Jamaica the following day.
The CCJ ruled that Myrie was indeed wrongfully denied entry into Barbados.
Repeated attempts by Barbados TODAY to reach the Chief Immigration Officer for a comment on the latest incident were unsuccessful.