A local attorney is demanding answers from a regional carrier and the Barbados Immigration Department about why one of her clients was detained for almost a week at the Grantley Adams International Airport.
The situation has also left the client’s family contemplating bringing a lawsuit against the government for unlawful detention.
Asante Brathwaite told Barbados TODAY that her client, Jamaican Kivesi Andrae Macpherson who was convicted of importing $20,000 worth of cannabis on December 30 had been convicted last Thursday and paid a fine of $8,000, before receiving a deportation order.
On Friday his family sent the money and he was declared a free man, but as is customary, he was taken into the custody of immigration officials at the airport pending his return flight to Jamaica. At the time, Macpherson was informed that Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson would have to sign off on his deportation, which would result in him spending the weekend.
However, another five days passed with the client being kept in a room at the GAIA with restricted access to his communication devices and limited clothing as he had hoped to board one of the daily Caribbean Airlines flights to Kingston.
She explained: “Tuesday came and he was not on the flight and they indicated to me that the pilot who was flying the plane did not want him on the flight unless he had an escort. Immigration indicated to me that they told the pilot he is not a wanted man, clearly he is not a fugitive, neither was he sentenced to prison. He just paid a fine. Why can’t he get on the flight? So it seemed we would have to wait until a different pilot was flying the plane for him to get home.”
Immigration Officer Terry Simmons who reportedly dealt with the matter said he could not comment and efforts to reach Chief Immigration Officer Wayne Marshall were unsuccessful. Meanwhile, Minister Hinkson told Barbados TODAY he was unaware of the case. Efforts to reach local Caribbean Airlines officials were also unsuccessful.
On Wednesday, Brathwaite was informed that Caribbean Airlines had given “the okay” to travel. However, when it was time for the flight to leave, they were told there had been no confirmation from the airline although her client had paid for adjustments to his tickets.
“He was up at the airport… he was traumatised and he just wanted to go home so he could have saved his job. But he lost his job,” the lawyer revealed.
She argued: “Yes, I know he committed an illegal act, but we don’t need to punish him twice. He already paid his debt to Barbados but was still being detained and nobody could tell me when he could go home. He was here depressed with no change of clothes. Immigration was assuring me that he was being given three meals everyday, but he was telling me that he had to purchase three meals daily. I am not saying that immigration is telling lies but the two stories are completely different.”
She added that Macpherson’s experience at Her Majesty’s Prison also reportedly included some inhumane treatment.
“In prison I had to make a complaint to the Superintendent as well in regard to the treatment that he was given by the officers including the fact that his cell was awash with faeces and urine and he had to sleep in that overnight before it was cleared out. I complained to the superintendent about that along with some very horrible comments made to him by the prison officers,” Brathwaite added.
Repeated calls to Superintendent of Prisons Lieutenant Colonel John Nurse went unanswered.
Thankfully, on Thursday morning, Macpherson was able to board a flight bound for Kingston, but according to his lawyer his family is considering pursuing the matter further.
“The family has been threatening to file a claim because the man was being held unlawfully, because he was a freed man, but still not free,” she indicated.