I read in the Jamaica Observer of March 24 about the mistreatment of a Jamaican woman by a Barbados immigration officer, and shuddered at the way some of our Caricom neighbours treat each other. Barbados within the last 15 years has allowed many of their immigration officers to treat travellers from certain Caribbean countries in the most disgraceful, disrespectful, unprofessional and inhumane manner, all in the name of national security.
The recent violation of the young Jamaican woman who was allegedly forced to undergo cavity searches while being verbally abused in the process reflects horribly on the professionalism and integrity of the Barbados immigration system. What makes matters like these more ugly is the fact that the offending party or parties continue to operate in this way, seemingly with little or no reprimand from their superiors or those responsible for governing the professional and ethical standards of the Barbados immigration office.
As Jamaicans suffer, so do many Guyanese. Many have been the tales of unprovoked, demeaning treatment and most times deportation of Guyanese who find themselves on the wrong side of the Barbados immigration system. While it is true that some persons do present themselves in countries, including Barbados, with the intention of engaging in nefarious activities, all persons from certain Caribbean countries should not be classified as lawbreakers.
Caricom for the last decade has been trying to create a Single Market and Economy for the Caribbean where one of its tenets is the free movement of Caribbean people. Yet Caricom seems helpless in bringing one of its wayward members (Barbados) in line with regard to its violations and discrimination that passes for immigration service at its airport.
Caricom leaders should seriously address the issues relating to Barbados immigration at their next heads meeting. Barbados is not Australia. And Australia has one of the most rigorous immigration systems in the world. However as rigorous as the Australian immigration system is, its officers are highly trained, professional, courteous, respectful and sensible.
Maybe some professional training needs to be conducted for Barbados immigration officers. The region needs to denounce this kind of atrocious unprofessional conduct by an immigration officer.
I expect all the women’s rights groups to rise up and denounce this dastardly act.