Jamaica Public Defender flays Bajan Foreign Minister over finger-rape statement

(Barbados Nation) Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Maxine McClean has come under fire for her handling of the incident involving a 22-year-old Jamaican woman, who claimed she was finger-searched before being denied entry into Barbados two weekends ago.

Jamaica’s Public Defender Earl Witter described McClean’s remarks that Shanique Myrie’s claims were baseless and untrue as injurious and reckless, adding that it had contributed significantly to the deteriorating relations between the two countries.

“I consider [McClean’s] remarks were injurious when she pronounced Myrie’s allegations a total fabrication. [McClean] was making definitive judgement as was reported to her by Barbadian functionaries.

“[McClean] should have heard evidence of both sides before making judgement that Myrie’s story was a fabrication,” Witter told the DAILY NATION from his office in Kingston yesterday.

Noting he sensed “a motion of hostility” while McClean was issuing her statement on the issue, Witter said she was also contemptuous when she referred to a diplomatic note sent from Jamaica to the Barbados Government as a “piece of correspondence”.“It smacks of contempt and to label it (diplomatic note) that way is to demean diplomatic correspondence at the highest level.

“It disturbs me,”  he added.

Witter, who has been mandated by the Jamaican government to look into the matter, said he had made a request to Ombudsman Valton Bend to independently investigate the matter and report his findings.

But he noted that might not now be possible since Bend might find himself in an awkward position, given the stance of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Witter said that based on the current atmosphere the incident had triggered, the court could be the best recourse to settle the issue.

“I don’t think it can be resolved in any other way. All the alleged actors can be subjected to cross-examination.

“The relations between the two countries are in a very unhappy state,” he added.

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