Government Senator Rudolph Greenidge has thrown his support behind immigration officers even as legislation moved through the Senate to introduce technology that will limit their interaction with travellers.
Senator Greenidge described as a misconception the view of unfriendly Barbadian officers, and said every attempt must be made to alter that view, often expressed by visitors and residents alike entering the Grantley Adams International Airport.
During debate on the Immigration (Amendment) Bill, the measure to legalise the kiosks which were installed but not operated under the previous administration, Senator Greenidge said that even before the highly publicised Shanique Myrie incident, the island’s immigration officers had not been held in high regard.
In a landmark case, the Caribbean Court of Justice ruled that Myrie was mistreated and assaulted by Barbadian officials and denied entry in March 2011 in violation of the CARICOM Treaty.
Senator Greenidge contended that with tourism being the main foreign exchange earner, visitors to the island needed to feel comfortable coming to Barbados.
Senator Greenidge said: “I want to be upfront and say that even before that Shanique Myrie case became so popular around the Caribbean, there was a misconception in certain areas of the Caribbean that Barbados’ immigration officers were not friendly people. And whether we liked it or not, that was the way some people felt about us.
“And even since that case, this continues and I do believe that we need to work on that particular misconception. We’ve seen newspaper articles in which people have described their experience with our immigration officers and that Shanique Myrie case did not help this country in that regard at all.
“We also have to realize that there is nothing Barbados has to fear from Caribbean people coming to our country. I’m saying that we must make the effort that there is nothing for Caribbean visitors to fear when they come to Barbados.”