To make entry by Barbadians conditional on fingerprinting is not only”nonsense”, but also an infringement of their constitutional right, warns former Attorney General Dale Marshall.
Reacting to plans by Government to fingerprint all arriving and departing passengers at its ports of entry– with the exception of children and diplomats – come April 1, Marshall accused the Freundel Stuart administration of engaging in “mindless adherence to international dictates”.
The St Joseph MP also warned that Barbadians were “entitled” to return to their homeland unencumbered.
“If an Englishman shows up in Barbados and refuses to give his fingerprint for whatever good reason, the immigration officer can say he is not going to accept him as a visitor and put him on the next flight departing for Britain. On the other hand, a Barbadian citizen has the right to enter his homeland and is not subject to deportation from his homeland,” Marshall pointed out.
“His/her entry into Barbados must of necessity be unconditional. If a Barbadian citizen turns up at a port of entry in Barbados with a Barbados passport, he/she must be allowed to enter, plain and simple. So to make his/her entry into Barbados conditional in anyway upon giving up any biometric data is an infringement of that person’s constitutional rights,” he added, also describing the latest move by Government as “illegal and a technical absurdity.
“Such action achieves no purpose,” Marshall insisted.
The United States is among international countries that currently have a biometric system, which allows for fingerprinting and facial scans of visitors upon entry.
While acknowledging the threat to security presented by organized crime and Islamic fundamentalists, such as ISIS who seek to undermine western civilization,Marshall contended that policymakers must act “proportionate to the risk”.
“There is no doubt that we need to know who is coming and going, but let us begin by saying that a Barbadian citizen must be exempt from that stipulation,” he suggested to the authorities.
“In relation to visitors coming to your country we already have advance passenger information dating back to World Cup 2007 where the list is scrubbed and that system works,” the St Joseph MP further pointed out.
Marshall, who served as Attorney General in the former Barbados Labour Party administration, maintained that if the current Government wanted to add another layer of security it was free to do so, but said it must be acknowledge that there were questions that still had to addressed.
For example, he asked: “What is the impact fingerprinting would have on our tourism industry? What is the impact it would have in terms of being able to use the airport expeditiously when you are arriving? Will fingerprinting place Barbados at a competitive disadvantage in terms of other jurisdictions that do not implement the measure?”
The move by immigration authorities has been welcomed by the Royal Barbados Police Force, whose primary mandate it is to arrest crime.
However, Marshall warned that “you do not capture the fingerprints of an entire nation in order to be able to investigate or to interdict a particular individual. That invades the privacy of an entire nation.”
The former Attorney General said it was one thing to say that these things were being done internationally, but argued that policymakers must act logically at all times.
He maintained that Barbadians could not be subjected to a fingerprint in order to allowed entry into their own home.