Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite said today the Freundel Stuart administration would not be deterred from introducing fingerprinting at its ports of entry.
While insisting that the matter was one of national security, Brathwaite said today that critics of the plan were well within their rights to take Government to court over the matter, if they believed it had a case to answer.
However, the Attorney General said just today he was reminded by a friend that the island, which is in a “hazard-prone area”, did not have a full database of its citizens.
“Chances are that at some point of time, we are going to have a bad event [and] that in fact that is another use of information. So we will see how it goes,” said Brathwaite, who was adamant that “Government policy isn’t shaped by whether or not the Opposition, David Comissiong or anyone wants to take us to court.
“We have to decide what’s best for this country,” he affirmed.
The comments by the Attorney General, who was speaking following this morning’s opening of a meeting on International Standards on Combatting Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation at Radisson Aquatica Resort, came in response to recent warnings issued by Comissiong, as well as other members of the local Bar Association to Government to put the brakes to its fingerprinting plan or be faced with legal consequences.
The latest word of caution was sounded by Opposition Barbados Labour Party MP Edmund Hinkson, who is also an attorney-at-law, during a BLP political rally at the weekend after Government on Friday announced a pull back of the Immigration (Biometrics) Regulations which were due to take effect on April 1.
It said the plan had been deferred to give the Immigration Department more time to review the legal and other issues raised by objectors, as well as to raise public awareness about the imminent move.
However, in response, Hinkson said the BLP was not holding out any hope for the planned consultations.
“We ain’t minding that,” Hinkson told a BLP rally at the junction of Baxter’s Road and Westbury Road over the weekend.
“We still going to court to get the regulations declared unconstitutional, because you can’t prevent Barbadians from leaving Barbados or from coming back into Barbados when they have a right under the Constitution to do so,” he explained.
In the meantime, the Barbados Bar Association has said it was not convinced that the decision was constitutionally sound and has pledged to join with, and support, any action started in the High Court by Comissiong and/or anyone else challenging the constitutionality of the regulations.
In a resolution passed at its general meeting last week, the Bar also said it would request a meeting with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to discuss the contentious fingerprinting plan by Immigration authorities in addition to making its views known to the public.
“The Bar shall inform the public by way of newspaper publications and radio programmes of the legal ramifications of the Immigration (Biometrics) Regulations 2015,” added the resolution, a copy of which was obtained by Barbados TODAY.
Apart from the proposed fingerprinting, the Immigration Department announced last month that it would also introduce facial scanning of passengers later this year. The only exemptions will be holders of diplomatic passports and children younger than 16 years old.