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'Ja doesn't refuse entry to Caricom nationals'

Myrie vs Barbados case now goes to Bridgetown

BY KARYL WALKER Crime/Court editor walkerk@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, March 07, 2013    

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EPHIEUM Allen, deputy director of immigration at the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency, yesterday testified during the final sitting of the Caribbean Court of Justice in Kingston that Caribbean Community (Caricom) nationals are not refused entry into Jamaica unless under dire circumstances.

Allen was responding to questions from attorney Nancy Anderson who re-examined him after he was drilled by Barbadian attorney Roger Forde.

"Caricom nationals are subject to a less intense interview than non-Caricom nationals. A refusal of entry to a Caricom national is an absolute last resort," Allen said.

"If they do not have literal cash or have not pre-booked him or herself in a hotel they are allowed at the airport -- using our office space, using our resources -- to make contact with an appropriate hotel that is within their budget. Then, in circumstances where a person does not have a return ticket they are either allowed to purchase a return ticket from their own funds or they are allowed to make contact with someone to assist them in purchasing a return ticket," he said.

Myrie, who is claiming damages and has demanded an apology for discrimination relating to two dehumanising cavity searches, subsequent to her detention and deportation to Jamaica from Barbados, reported that she was not allowed to make contact with anyone and was instead subjected to abusive language about her nationality.

The Jamaican Government, which is acting in the role of intervenor, argued that Jamaicans are summarily turned back from Barbados and subject to unfair treatment based solely on their nationality.

Allen also testified that Barbados officials stated no reason why Myrie was not afforded entry into the Eastern Caribbean island.

He said that in Jamaica, all reasonable avenues are pursued before a decision is taken to refuse entry to a Caricom national and even then, they are treated with civility.

"If refusal occurs, it is a practice to allow them to make phone calls or use the Internet to send a message," he said.

When presented with data on the number of Jamaicans who had been refused entry into Barbados (defined as turn-arounds by PICA) between 2006 and 2012, Forde pointed out that he was at a loss to make a definitive analysis as there were no figures from other Caricom states with which to compare the data.

"You do not tell me how many were accepted; I cannot make any real comparison. It would be insufficient to make any meaningful analysis," Forde said.

"That is your position, sir. As someone who works in the Jamaican Immigration Department I would have to explain to you what we mean by turn-arounds," Allen replied.

"Your data does not speak to acceptance?" Forde asked.

"No, sir," Allen replied.

Allen also told the court that it was not unusual for Jamaicans to be deported from Barbados without being given a reason.

Data released by PICA reveal that a total of 1,485 Jamaicans had been refused entry into Barbados.

Earlier, evidence was heard from Jamaican Avia James, Odiesha Brown and John Wilson -- who claimed to have been X-rayed for drugs and detained, even though he was not found with any drugs and had sufficient money to support himself while in Barbados.

James and Brown both claimed to have been refused entry and verbally abused by Barbadian officials who accused them of visiting the island to steal men and traffic drugs.

However, Wilson's cross-examination hit a snag when it was discovered that he was illiterate and had to be assisted in filling out his Immigration form by another passenger.

When asked by CCJ President Sir Dennis Byron if he could read and write, Wilson replied "No, sir, me can't read and write."

At this point, Forde abandoned the cross-examination of Wilson.

In closing, Sir Dennis expressed his gratitude on behalf of his six fellow judges and other CCJ staff for the hospitality they were accorded by the Jamaican people during their stay here.

The case will continue in Barbados later this month.

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