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Legal battle begins as CCJ hears Myrie vs Barbados finger-rape case

Daggers drawn

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

Tuesday, March 05, 2013    

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ROGER Forde, the lead attorney for the Barbadian Government, took pot shots at Jamaican Shanique Myrie's credibility as her case against the eastern Caribbean island began in the Caribbean Court of Justice yesterday at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston.

Myrie is claiming damages for discrimination and demeaning treatment, including two illegal cavity searches at the Grantley Adams International Airport in March 2010 which, she said, were carried out because of her nationality.

Myrie, dressed in a black pants suit, was the first witness to take the stand in the historic first sitting of the CCJ in Jamaica. She was drilled by Forde about her contact, Pamella Clarke, in Barbados.

"Are you aware that Miss Pamella Clarke filed a statement that she says she does not know you? You did not communicate with her, and she did not invite you to Barbados?" Forde said.

"Yes sir. Her statement is not true," Myrie replied.

"I am suggesting to you that Pamella Clarke did not invite you to visit Barbados, either by telephone or otherwise," Forde said.

Forde also questioned Myrie about the official who stamped her passport and the details of her experience at the airport before the alleged cavity search.

Myrie testified that she went to immigration window number 12 and that a female officer stamped her passport, handed it to a male colleague who ordered her to go upstairs.

She said that she was at first given clearance to enter the country, but the male officer then cancelled the clearance by stamping over the one imprinted by the female officer, who was identified as Alicia Young.

"At 4:33 pm you appeared at window number 12 and was interviewed by Alicia Young. Thereafter, Alicia Young accompanied you to a secured section of the Immigration Department. You were placed in a waiting area where you were interviewed by Mr Reid and he placed a stamp in your passport," Forde said.

"I am not sure who did it," Myrie replied.

Forde also tried to discredit Myrie's claim that her luggage was searched twice and who actually retrieved Myrie's luggage from a carousel, but Myrie was adamant that her luggage was searched twice.

However, she sounded unsure of the person who retrieved the luggage.

"I remember going with them for my suitcase. The male and the female," she said.

Myrie is being represented by attorneys Michelle Brown and Nancy Anderson.

Her legal team intends to argue that her fundamental human rights were breached under law and will ask the court to make a declaration of discrimination. Myrie is also demanding that the Government of Barbados issue an apology and pay her damages.

The attorneys are also asking the court to interpret and apply the dictates of the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas which applies to free and full movement of Caribbean Community (Caricom) nationals without discrimination, based on nationality and that the human rights of Caricom nationals are recognised.

In her opening statement, Brown said the action of the Barbadian officials towards Myrie were in clear breach of the treaty.

"The defendant's actions amount to wanton disregard for the treaty. The only thing on the minds of the Barbadian officials was her nationality. There are only two ways they can be singled out. If they are likely to be charged or if they are undesirable. The nothing-to-declare line must be open. There should be no sniffer dogs intermingling with passengers. Member states must recognise that they and their servants must abide by the treaty or else the regional movement will disintegrate," Brown said.

Myrie's defence team informed the court that they will be calling six witnesses to the stand, including Dr Clayton Sewell, president of the Jamaica Psychiatric Association; Myrie's friend Julian Jackson, who picked her up upon her return to Jamaica; a representative of the Attorney General's Office; a senior police officer; and the Jamaican High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados, Sharon Saunders.

The case will continue today when Myrie is expected to continue giving testimony.

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