Just over a million dollars in damages.
That is what Michelle Brown, the attorney for Jamaican, Shanique Myrie is asking the Caribbean Court of Justice to award her client for her alleged inhumane and degrading treatment at the hands of Barbadian border officials at Grantley Adams International Airport on March 14, 2011.
Addressing the CCJ for about four hours in her final arguments to try to convince the seven judges comprising the court, that they should believe her client’s account of the treatment meted out to her by the Barbadian officials, Brown periodically looked in the direction of Myrie as she sought to make her case for damages.
One could hear a pin drop as Brown, displaying bouts of passion and emotion, requested that the tribunal, with headquarters on 134 Henry Street, Port of Spain award “an
innocent” Myrie $800,000 (Jamaican) in moral and punitive damages, in addition to $178,000 in special damages as well as legal costs fit for her team of two attorneys.
The packed public gallery and lawyers representing the Barbados Government, the CARICOM Secretariat and the Jamaica Government, sat stoically in their places in the modestly-appointed court room that reflected traces of Roman architecture, and heard Myrie’s attorney accuse Barbadian police officers Serafene Carrington and Everton Gittens of a cover up.
As Brown went through her arguments, the woman at the centre of this historic trial, also appeared to be going through varying emotional reactions — blinking rapidly at times, steering intently in her lawyer’s direction or at the judges when they commented on aspects of Brown’s submission.
She told the court that the alleged body cavity search by the constable Carrington, amounted to rape, resulting in Myrie experiencing post traumatic stress disorder and difficulty sleeping.
In addition to the damages, Brown is urging the regional court to make other declarations, orders and awards. For example, she wants the justices to declare that Barbados breached the right of her client to enter this country in pursuant of Article 45 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas in conjunction with Articles 9, 12, 28 and 240 of the same Treaty and the 2007 CARICOM Heads of Government Conference decision, subjecting Myrie to inhumane treatment.
Myrie’s legal counsel told the CCJ that the current case was about her client’s right to enter Barbaddos under the CARICOM decision of 2007. She also urged the court to make a declaration that the Barbodos breached the Treaty by discriminating against the claimant on the grounds of her nationality only, in denying her entry and subjecting her to inhumane treatment.
Another request was for the judges to declare null and void this island’s decision to refuse Myrie entry. There are about another 14 points on which the claimant’s legal counsel has asked the CCJ to make declarations.
She also asked the tribunal to believe the claimant’s account of what happened on the day in question, adding that the Barbadian border officials lied about what took place. Brown submitted that Myrie did not know Daniel Forde, who Pamela Clarke testified, she, Clarke, was fronting for and that it was the Barbadian woman, who was hosting her client.
She asked the CCJ to note the fact that the lawyers for the Barbados Government did not call Forde as a witness.
Brown is requesting that the court order a declaration that Section 23 (1) of the Immigration Act Cap 190 and Section 13 (2)b of the Administration of Justice Act Cap 109b, violated the rights of her client under Articles 7,8 and 9 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, are inconsistent with other sections of that same treaty and frustrate and prejudice the object and purpose of the said instrument.