Opposition Member of Parliament and former Attorney General Dale Marshall yesterday slammed as “illogical”, Government’s continued defence of its proposal to introduce fingerprinting for Barbadians entering and leaving the country.
Reiterating that the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) would not support the move, Marshall questioned why the Freundel Stuart administration appeared “ hell bent” on pursuing the system in the face of strong rejection from Barbadians.
“It now appears that even though the Immigration Department announced that the measure was going to be deferred for further consideration and action, . . . based on the mouthing of the Minister of Commerce and the Minister of Health, that this administration, despite the very vocal criticism of the public of Barbados, is once more hell bent on taking us down this road.”
Making his contribution to the Immigration (Amendment) Bill 2016, Marshall accused Government of putting “arrangements in place in an almost whimsical manner”, while citing its recent pull back from the Cahill waste-to-energy project.
“The Minister of the Environment was hell bent on taking us down a particular road too, and only in the last week came to this Parliament sheepishly hoping to disavow any intention of taking us to Cahill. Perhaps we are seeing a similar modality being employed here,” argued the St Joseph representative, who charged that the move would make the island nothing more than a “trail blazer in foolishness”.
He was adamant that no other country subjects its citizens to fingerprinting.
“It is inconsistent with international practice,” he said, rubbishing suggestions that the move was in keeping with the island’s international obligations.
“How is it that they ignore the other obligation, the international obligation that our country signed on to which guarantees Barbadian citizens the right of entry into their home without let, hindrance or any precondition. It remains fundamentally wrong and it is also illogical.”
Marshall said while there were certain aspects of the island’s passport and identification arrangements that could be improved, it was wrong to subject Barbadians to fingerprinting.
“What would you do if one of your constituents came into Barbados and refused to give a fingerprint? What is the immigration officer going to do? Deport him or her to where they come from? They are Barbadians so you can’t deport a Barbadian from Barbados,” he warned.
“On the other hand, can the immigration officer charge them with an offence for refusing to give them a fingerprint?,” he asked, adding that such would be “equally objectionable and idiotic”.
The St Joseph MP also said there was a practical matter that had to be grappled with:
“Are we going to have sufficient immigration officers available so that the reasonable course of entering Barbados for a holiday is facilitated?”
Marshall said there was ample precedent for the fingerprinting of visitors and if the Government wished to do that, it was entirely at liberty to do so.
“If the Government wants to fingerprint international visitors so be it. We have never raised any objections to fingerprinting international visitors. Our fundamental objection is that the Government for some bizarre reason wants to fingerprint Barbadians.”