Barbados Immigration Department denies violating human rights of Jamaican

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Barbados Immigration Department denies violating human rights of Jamaican

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — Barbados immigration authorities say they are not responsible for the delay in the departure of Jamaican, Kivesi McPherson, who was considered a prohibited person from entering the island.

In a lengthy statement, the Immigration Department refuted statements made by attorney, Asante Brathwaite, who is demanding questions from the Trinidad-based Caribbean Airlines (CAL) and the Immigration Department as to why her client was detained for almost a week at the Grantley Adams International Airport.

Brathwaite said she was aware that her client had “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 every day, 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 said that Macpherson's experience at Her Majesty's Prison also reportedly included some inhumane treatment.

But in its statement, the Immigration Department said the Jamaican had arrived here on December 30 last year on a CAL flight and that a check by Customs officials of the laptop bag he was carrying revealed three taped packages of cannabis concealed in a false compartment.

The Immigration Department said that McPherson was arrested and charged and on January 9, this year, he pleaded guilty to the offences of unlawful possession of cannabis, possession with intent to supply, trafficking and importation of cannabis.

McPherson was fined BDS$8,000 (One Barbados dollar=US$0.50 cents) to be paid forthwith, with an alternative of nine months' imprisonment for the importation of cannabis. He was convicted, reprimanded and discharged for possession of the drug, possession with intent to supply and trafficking.

The Immigration Department said that the fine was not paid immediately, and McPherson began serving his term of imprisonment. However, a day later, the fine was paid and McPherson was released into the custody of the Barbados Immigration Department.

“He was detained by the department in accordance with section 13(8) of the Immigration Act Cap 190, pending deportation. Section 13(8) gives the Chief Immigration Officer the authority to detain a person pending the making and execution of a deportation order.”

The Immigration Department said that given McPherson's convictions he was considered a prohibited person in accordance with the Immigration Act and that the deportation order was signed on January 13.

The Immigration Department said that CAL requires that permission for persons being deported from Barbados must be requested 48 hours in advance in order to travel on its aircraft and that such a request was made on January 10.

It said that communication had been received from CAL allowing for McPherson to travel on its aircraft and on January 14, he was checked in by Caribbean Airlines personnel, and issued with a boarding pass to depart on the 6:00 am (local time) flight.

“In accordance with Immigration protocol for the repatriation of deportees, he was escorted by an Immigration Officer to the boarding gate at 5:15 am. However, the captain of the aircraft refused to accept McPherson on board because he was not escorted by an Immigration Officer to Jamaica.”

But the Immigration Department said “it should be noted that it is not customary for the Immigration Department to provide escorts in these circumstances,” adding “usually, the airline readily accepts such persons without objection”.

The Immigration Department said that further permission was sought from the airline's headquarters in Trinidad and obtained on January 15.

It said that McPherson's attorney was informed of the situation and that she “was aware that the Immigration Department did not have any control over the airline, and that the department had met all of its obligations with respect to the repatriation of persons being deported”.

“She was never prevented from speaking with or visiting her client,” the Immigration Department said, adding that he was also allowed to contact his family members via telephone; provided with meals, shower and toilet facilities and a room to sleep.

“His basic human rights were not in any way violated,” it said, noting that on the day of his departure he refused breakfast because he was upset that he was denied travel on January 15.

“The department did everything in its power to repatriate McPherson in a timely manner; the fact that his departure was delayed was not the department's fault. The officers provided yeoman service by going beyond the call of duty to ensure that he got the meals that he requested,” the Immigration Department added.

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