JAMAICA'S Attorney General's Office yesterday indicated that it intends to call four witnesses to the stand as the Government began to present its case in the first sitting of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in Jamaica to hear the case against the Barbadian Government by Shanique Myrie.
The court, which is being adjudicated by a panel of seven judges, is being held at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston and is hearing arguments from Myrie that her human rights were violated after she was subjected to two dehumanising cavity searches.
Yesterday, Myrie rested her case and allowed for Attorney Dr Kathy-Ann Brown to present her arguments on behalf of the Jamaican state, which is acting as intervener in the matter.
Brown told the court that the Jamaican Government would be asking the CCJ to rule on four essential points:
* Freedom of movement and the right to hassle-free travel within the Caribbean Community arising by virtue of Articles 9, 28(1), 45 and 240 of the Revised Treaty and the Decisions of the Conference of Heads of Government;
* The right to non-discrimination on the ground of nationality as contained in Article 7 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas;
*The right to most favoured nation treatment contained in Article 8 of the Revised Treaty; and
*The obligation of Member States in the discharge of their legislative, executive, administrative or judicial functions to ensure respect for and protection of the human dignity of every person in accordance with the Preamble and Article 9 of the Revised Treaty.
"The statistical evidence submitted by both Jamaica and Barbados demonstrate a persistent and relatively constant disparity over a period of five years from 2007 in the denial of entry of Jamaican nationals compared with nationals of almost all other CARICOM countries. The statistics on denials of entry to Jamaicans vis-à-vis other nationals is of important probative value in the instant case," Brown said.
"Where statistical data demonstrates a pattern of differential and prejudicial treatment of a category of persons, here, Jamaican nationals, this places a significant burden of proof on a Defendant to provide an explanation.
If there is no, or satisfactory explanation, it is legitimate to infer that the less favourable treatment was on grounds of nationality," she added.
Brown said the intervener would call four witnesses: Avia James and Odeisha Brown, both of whom claimed to have been detained and accused of visiting Barbados to steal men; John Wilson, who was accused of taking drugs to Barbados and subjected to intense interrogation and an X-ray examination despite having made a reservation and proving he had sufficient funds to cover his visit; and Ephieum Allen, deputy director of immigration at the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency, who will present statistics to show that a large number of Jamaicans travelling to Barbados are refused entry and returned to Jamaica.
"The evidence to be adduced by the intervener presents individual testimonies as well as statistical data addressing a sufficiently long period as to confirm a general pattern with respect to Jamaican returnees from Barbados over the years," Brown said.
Earlier Myrie had the courtroom in stitches when she beat back an attempt by lead attorney for the Barbadian Government, Roger Forde, to discredit her claim that the detention room in which she was locked up before being deported to Jamaica was filled with the stench of faeces.
"Superintendent Beverley Nichols came to you and you made no complaint to her," Forde said.
"She did not identify herself to me. The lady came up an asked me a question and I answered it. I was in there crying," she said.
"I am suggesting to you that it was relatively OK," Forde said.
"No, sir," Myrie replied.
"At 10:34 when the supervisor came to check on you, she did not smell any faeces," Forde shot back.
"I guess she is used to that smell, but I am not," Myrie replied.
Forde also tried to discredit Myrie's claim that she, in fact, was subjected to a cavity search and suggested that large swathes of her witness statement were untrue.
"Your refusal of entry was not, in any way, related to your nationality, but with the answers that you gave to immigration. Mr Merlo Reid, when he placed the cancelled stamp in your passport, told you that you misrepresented when you said that you were staying with Pamela Clarke," he said.
The court also heard testimony from psychiatrist Sonia Davidson, whose absence during the morning session forced the court to take a recess.
Davidson said she treated Myrie on three occasions and found that Myrie was experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder.
Again, Forde attempted to discredit the doctor's analysis.
"In the event that the events were untrue, would your opinion remain the same?"
"I don't think that is a question for a medical practitioner. I saw her, she was in that state. I can say it was a stressful and traumatic experience," Davidson replied.
Davidson also apologised to the court for her earlier non appearance.
Forensic psychiatrist and president of the Psychiatric Association of Jamaica, Dr Clayton Sewell; High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados Sharon Saunders; Chevine Edwards; and Julian Jackson also took the witness stand during yesterday's sitting.
The hearing continues today.