In what is being hailed as a landmark judgment, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) yesterday awarded Jamaican Shanique Myrie Bds$75,000 (or J$3.6M) in damages after finding that she had been wrongfully denied entry into Barbados, while upholding the right of Caricom nationals to enter member states without harassment.
In a judgment delivered at the CCJ’s Headquarters in Port of Spain yesterday morning, the court also found that Myrie had been subjected to a humiliating cavity search and unlawfully detained overnight in a cell and expelled from the island.
The court also ordered Barbados to refund Myrie her medical expenses, her airline ticket and her reasonable legal expenses.
A news release from the court noted that Myrie had instituted proceedings in May, 2012 alleging that Barbados had violated her right to free movement within Caricom. She also claimed that she was subjected to discrimination on the ground of her nationality when Barbadian officials refused her entry into Barbados on March 14, 2011. The State of Jamaica intervened in the proceedings and at the trial supported her claims.
Myrie claimed that in the course of refusing her entry into Barbados she was subjected to a body cavity search and to deplorable detention conditions. She gave evidence, which was corroborated by Jamaican medical practitioners, that the treatment she received continues to cause her post-traumatic stress.
The release said the court rejected Myrie’s claim that she was discriminated against on account of her nationality but found for her on the other claims. “In the course of its judgment the CCJ held that CARICOM nationals are entitled to enter CARICOM Member States, without harassment or the imposition of impediment, and to stay for up to six months,” it said.
This right, according to the court, was derived from the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC) and a 2007 Caricom decision made at the Twenty-Eighth Meeting of the Con-ference of Heads of Government.
The release said that the right requires member states to give the refused person written reasons for the refusal and also to advise them of their entitlement to access meaningful judicial review. “The right may be denied only where the receiving state establishes that the visitor is an undesirable person or one likely to become a charge on public funds. The court defined “undesirable” as a person who “poses or can reasonably be expected to pose a genuine present and sufficiently serious threat affecting one of the fundamental interests of society,” the release added.
Meanwhile, the Jamaica Gleaner reported that after the decision Myrie said the judgment should serve as a lesson to other Jamaicans not to remain silent when they are wronged.
“It’s not about the money; it’s about equal rights and justice,” she was quoted as saying, outside the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston after a live video link to the CCJ headquarters in Trinidad and Tobago.
She was also reported as saying that she has no plans to go back to Barbados, but added that she would not discourage others from going.
The court was presided over by Court President the Rt. Honourable Sir Dennis Byron along with
Honourable Justices Nelson, Saunders, Bernard, Wit, Hayton and Anderson. Michelle Brown and Nancy Anderson appeared for Myrie; Roger Forde, QC, Patterson Cheltenham QC, Donna Brathwaite, QC, Dr David Berry and Nargis Hardyal appeared for Barbados; Dr Kathy-Ann Brown, Lisa White and O’Neil Francis appeared for the Intervener, Jamaica; and Gladys Young, Dr Chantal Ononaiwu, and Safiya Ali appeared for the Community.
The full judgment of the Court is available on the CCJ’s website www.caribbeancourtofjustice.org, the release noted.