KATHY-ANN Brown, the lawyer representing the Jamaican Government in the Shanique Myrie case, has hailed yesterday’s ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as significant for every Jamaican travelling throughout the Caricom region.
The court held that where a Caricom national is refused entry into a member state, that national should be given the opportunity to consult an attorney or a consular official of his or her country, or to contact a family member.
The court also ruled that member states should give, promptly and in writing, reasons for refusing entry. The receiving state is also obliged to inform the refused national of his or her right to challenge the decision.
Brown hailed the judgement — which was handed down via video conference — as historic, and said border officials in Caricom member states will have to ensure that they adhere to the tenets of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas when handling visitors who arrive at their ports of entry.
“It is important to every single Jamaican that the court has ruled on the right to access. The fact every single Jamaican has now been told that they can object to being denied the right of entry, I think is going to be positive for all of us,” Brown told the Jamaica Observer.
The court ruled that Barbados should pay damages amounting to BDS$77,240 (J$3,862,000) to Myrie for a serious breach of her right of entry into that country.
“In all the circumstances, the court made a declaration that Barbados had breached Ms Myrie’s right to enter Barbados. The court ordered Barbados to compensate Ms Myrie in pecuniary damages in the sum of BD$2,240 and non-pecuniary damages to the tune of BD$75,000.
The court also ordered Barbados to pay Ms Myrie’s reasonable costs,” the executive summary of the ruling stated.
In addition, the court ordered that ‘Barbados interpret and apply its domestic laws liberally so as to harmonise them with Caricom law or, if not, alter them.’
Myrie, whose story was broken by the Jamaica Observer days after the March 14, 2011 incident, was ecstatic after yesterday’s ruling as she basked in the support of her husband, mother, sisters and cousins, who had accompanied her to the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston.
“I am proud of me. It is not about the money, but the principle. I will never go back to Barbados, but I won’t discourage anyone from going there because it’s not the people, but the airport that needs cleaning up,” she said.
However, the court dismissed claims by Myrie and the Jamaican Government, which acted as intervener, that she was discriminated against on the grounds of her nationality.
Myrie claimed for damages after she complained of being subjected to a dehumanising cavity probe, locked up in a filthy cell, and being deported the following day despite not being in contravention of any law.
The incident happened at the Grantley Adams International Airport on March 14, 2011.
Addressing the Senate yesterday, Jamaica’s minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, A J Nicholson, shared the view that the ruling was not only important for Myrie and other Jamaicans, “but for the entire Caricom”.
“[It] has far-reaching implications for the implementation of the Caricom Single Market and Economy regime,” he said, making particular reference to the provisions for the freedom of movement of Caricom nationals as well as the flow of goods across borders in the bloc of countries.