The way has been cleared for Jamaican Shanique Myrie, who was denied entry into Barbados over two years ago, to re-enter the sister Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member state.
In a landmark ruling today, which has implications for the entire 15-nation bloc, the Trinidadian-based Caribbean Court of Justice ruled that Barbados had breached Myrie’s right under Article 45 of the Revised Treaty Of Chaguaramas and it ordered that the Freundel Stuart Government pay over $75, 000 in damages, plus legal costs.
Flanked by her husband Troy Pusey and other family members, a beaming Myrie emerged from the Supreme Court building in Kingston earlier today after the judgment was delivered via video conference from Port of Spain.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY shortly afterwards, Myrie’s lead attorney Michelle Brown said both she and her client were elated.
However, she does not expect that Myrie will be returning to Barbados any time soon.
“She is happy. At certain points today she was near tears because she had felt vilified by the region to some extent,” reported Brown.
“She has expressed a feeling that finally somebody has taken her claim seriously, and certainly all persons who undergo similar treatment, she is asking them to please speak out because that is the only way that we are going to change things when they happen,” the attorney added.
Myrie, 25, had taken the Barbados Government to court, alleging that she was subjected to a humiliating body search when she attempted to enter the island on March 14, 2011.
Asked directly if her client had any immediate plans of returning to Barbados, her lawyer said: “I don’t think so. She has said that she is not telling Jamaicans or others not to go to Barbados, but I think based on her own personal experience, she may be a little shy to go back.”
The attorney also sought to downplay the cavity search allegations, saying there was a bigger issue at stake.
“We don’t see this as a Jamaica or Shanique Myrie versus Barbados issue. We see this as a wider CARICOM issue as to how people should be treated as they move throughout CARICOM . . . . How we each, as we move through the region, take responsibility for ourselves and how we conduct ourselves through the region.”
She therefore believes there is a strong lesson not only for Barbados, but for all of CARICOM arising out of the judgment.
As she put it: “Be careful how you treat persons moving. Don’t go with preconceived notions as to what a nationality means or a person because of how she looks. It is a young lady travelling for the first time. There might have been signals that to them were sent out, not necessarily the truthful signals.
“So just be careful about how you treat people. Take them one on one as individuals, as human beings as they travel throughout the region.”
The attorney further insisted that “it doesn’t make sense for us to have all of these grand rules written up in CARICOM if the individual persons carrying them out carries them out with prejudices or with ill-conceived notions that don’t go to the spirit and intent of the Caribbean movement.
“So I think the prime lesson is: as we move and interact as people, we ought to do it on a humane level, taking each person as you find them and treat them as you would want yourself to be treated,” she added.