PORT OF SPAIN – In a landmark judgment, delivered at the Caribbean Court of Justice’s headquarters in Trinidad at 10 a.m. today, Jamaican national Shanique Myrie was awarded BDS$75,000 in damages to be paid by the State of Barbados. The CCJ found that Myrie had been wrongfully denied entry into Barbados, subjected to a humiliating cavity search and unlawfully detained overnight in a cell and expelled from Barbados.
Myrie had instituted proceedings in May, 2012, alleging that Barbados had violated her right to free movement within CARICOM. She also claimed that she was subjected to discrimination on the ground of her nationality when Barbadian officials refused her entry into Barbados on March 14, 2011. The State of Jamaica intervened in the proceedings and at the trial supported the claims of Myrie.
Myrie claimed that in the course of being refused entry into Barbados, she was subjected to a body cavity search and to deplorable detention conditions. She gave evidence, which was corroborated by Jamaican medical practitioners, that the treatment she received continues to cause her post-traumatic stress.
The court rejected Myrie’s claim that she was discriminated against on account of her nationality, but found for her on the other claims. In the course of its judgment the CCJ held that CARICOM nationals are entitled to enter CARICOM member states without harassment or the imposition of impediment, and to stay for up to six months. This right, the court stated, was derived from the Revised Treaty Of Chaguaramas (RTC) and a 2007 CARICOM Decision made at the 28th meeting of the Heads of Government of CARICOM.
The right requires member states to give the refused person written reasons for the refusal and also to advise them of their entitlement to access meaningful judicial review. The right may be denied only where the receiving state establishes that the visitor is an undesirable person or one likely to become a charge on public funds.
The court defined “undesirable” as a person who “poses or can reasonably be expected to pose a genuine present and sufficiently serious threat affecting one of the fundamental interests of society”.
The court also ordered Barbados to refund Myrie her medical expenses, her airline ticket and her reasonable legal expenses.
The court was presided over by President Sir Dennis Byron, along with Justices Nelson, Saunders, Bernard, Wit, Hayton and Anderson.
Michelle Brown and Nancy Anderson appeared for Myrie; Roger Forde, QC, Patterson Cheltenham, QC, Donna Brathwaite, QC, Dr David Berry and Nargis Hardyal for Barbados; and Dr Kathy-Ann Brown, Lisa White and O’Neil Francis appeared for the intervener Jamaica.
Gladys Young, Dr Chantal Ononaiwu and Safiya Ali appeared for the CARICOM Community.