Contending that Barbados could become “a transshipment point for terrorism” in a few years, Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Senator and attorney-at-law Verla De Peiza today declared her support for Government’s plans to fingerprint Barbadians at the island’s ports of entry.
De Peiza’s stance puts her in direct conflict with the Barbados Bar Association which has charged that the proposed measure was unconstitutional, and has promised to support anyone who challenges it before the court.
“I boldly state that I support the initiative. I know it sets me apart from some of my colleagues professionally,” De Peiza said in the Senate this morning.
The DLP candidate for Christ Church West insisted that this island faced security risks and argued that Barbadians could be among those entering the country with prohibited items, using fake travel documents.
“If it is that we are guaranteeing our ports and safeguarding entry, what is the fear of law-abiding citizens to having a fingerprint taken?”
The Immigration Department last month notified Barbadians that effective April 1 it would fingerprint everyone, both citizens and visitors, who enter and leave the island.
The only exemptions would be children under the age of 16 and holders of diplomatic passports.
However, following a wave of objections and legal threats, Acting Chief Immigration Officer Wayne Marshall announced last Friday that the measure had been deferred.
Marshall was quoted in a Barbados Government Information Service release as saying that the deferment was to allow the department more time to re-examine some of the issues, especially the legal issues, raised by the public, and to increase awareness about the initiative.
During her contribution to the debate on the Appropriation Bill 2016, De Peiza said it was not enough for a person to be given unchecked passage through the island’s port because the individual may be a bearer of a Barbados passport, which can be tampered; or a Barbados national identification card, which she described as a simple “cut-and-paste” document.
“How at the point of immigration do we identify a Barbadian, is it by passport?” she asked.
“The carriage of a Barbadian passport is not a failsafe in the identification of a Barbadian,” the specialist in criminology and criminal justice added. (GA)