The lawyer representing a Grenadian family who claimed they were bullied and humiliated over a false accusation of stealing a mobile phone in Barbados, says the matter is now heading to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
An application has been filed at the Trinidad-based CCJ, Barbados’ final court, for special leave to have the matter heard, according to attorney Ruggles Ferguson.
In October 2016, five members of the Gilbert family were in Barbados for an appointment at the United States Embassy to have their visas renewed. Back then, Tamika Gilbert told Barbados TODAY it was the first time they travelled as an entire family before, and having successfully completed their business early, they went to shop in Bridgetown.
But they said the trip became a nightmare after a storeowner accused the women of stealing her mobile phone.
“Confident of their innocence, they offered to have their bags searched by the storeowner, who turned down the offer and said she would check recordings from security cameras. Instead, an excessive amount of police officers showed up at the scene and during a heated exchange with the store owner, they were threatened with arrest,” Barbados TODAY reported.
Three members of the family said they were virtually stripped of their dignity by the officers, who shouted at them, insulted them, prevented them from speaking to other family members, brought them water three hours after they had made a request, and had one sister use the toilet with the door opened and an officer standing guard.
However, Tamika Gilbert said the most humiliating part of the experience was when they were strip-searched.
Ferguson, the former president of the Grenada Bar Association, said that in addition to the CCJ case, a matter had been filed in the Barbados courts on behalf of one of the family members who he said lives in Barbados and was also subjected to that treatment.
“That matter is ongoing, but the ones involving those resident in Grenada we decided to bring it to the CCJ because in the CCJ we can count on speed,” said Ferguson, who is also the President of the Organization of Commonwealth Caribbean Bar Associations.