The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) today threw out a case brought by a Grenadian family of four who accused the Barbados Government of violating their rights during a one-day visit to the island three years ago.
In the judgment handed down by CCJ president Justice Adrian Saunders; judges Jacob Wit, David Hayton, Winston Anderson and Madame Justice Rajnauth-Lee, ruled that Royston Gilbert, his wife Glennor Gilbert along with their two daughters Tamika and Lynnel Gilbert had failed to set up an arguable case of discrimination based on nationality only.
Tamika and Lynnel had accused Barbados of violating their right to freedom of movement under Article 45 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and under a Conference decision made by the Heads of Government in 2007.
They alleged that while at a police station they were subjected to humiliating and degrading strip searches, where they were instructed by a police officer to strip, stoop and cough, and sought damages for breach of their right to freedom of movement.
In both their written and oral submissions made to the CCJ, the Barbados Government, represented by Deidre Mckenna, denied that it committed any breaches of Article 45 or the 2007 Conference decision in relation to the applicants or at all, whether as pleaded in the special leave application, the proposed originating application, or otherwise.
The CCJ pointed out that while the applicants were taken into police custody for the purpose of police investigations, that freedom of movement did not immunize CARICOM nationals from the operation of law enforcement agencies in the receiving state.
Additionally, the CCJ held that the applicants would have had to set up an arguable case of discrimination based on nationality only, prohibited by Article 7 of the Revised Treaty, in order to be granted special leave to bring their claim against Barbados.
This, they failed to do leading to the application being dismissed.
The Gilberts arrived in Barbados on October 11, 2016, to conduct business at the United States Embassy.
After completion of their business at the embassy, they visited a mall in Bridgetown. Shortly after, the daughters were accused by a storeowner of stealing her cell phone.
Police was called to the scene and despite Tamika and Lynnel denying any knowledge of the stolen cell phone, they were taken into custody.
The applicants also contended that the police officers were not satisfied with a portion of Tamika’s statement where she complained, “I was subjected to an embarrassing bodily search” and claimed they were only allowed to leave the police station after Tamika removed that portion of her statement.
The entire ordeal at the police station lasted approximately 6 and a half hours. No family member was charged in connection with the allegations made concerning the theft of the cell phone and they returned to Grenada that same day.
The Gilberts subsequently lodged a complaint with Barbados’ Commissioner of Police three months later.
They claimed that in a letter dated November 21, 2017, more than a year after the incident, they were informed that an Inspector of Police had been assigned to investigate their complaints. To date, the applicants have not been informed of the outcome of the investigation.
Almost two years after the incident, on September 25, 2018, an application was filed in the CCJ by attorney-at-law Ruggles Fergusson acting on behalf of the Gilberts pursuant to Article 222 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas seeking special leave to commence proceedings against the State of Barbados.
The special leave application was heard on January 15, 2019.
Back in 2013, Jamaican Shanique Myrie was awarded US $38,620 in damages by the CCJ after suing the Barbados Government.
Myrie had filed a lawsuit against the Barbados Government claiming that on March 14, 2011, she was made to undergo a painful and humiliating body cavity search by a Barbadian border official upon her arrival at the Grantley Adams International Airport from Jamaica.
She was subsequently deported. email@example.com