(Barbados Nation) Don’t believe the hype!
That was the message sent to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) yesterday by Barbados’ lead attorney in Shanique Myrie’s lawsuit against the Barbados Government.
During his closing arguments to the CCJ at its Henry Street headquarters in Port of Spain, lead attorney Roger Forde urged the court to completely ignore any evidence brought forward by 25-year-old Myrie in the last month.
“Miss Myrie’s evidence was not credible,” the Queen’s Counsel told the seven-judge panel.
“It was laced with inconsistencies, and should be rejected in its entirety,” he added.
And Forde doesn’t think Myrie should be granted much money if the CCJ does eventually determine she should be awarded damages.
On Monday, Myrie’s lawyers had revealed they would be seeking almost TT$1 million in moral and punitive damages.
“If she is guaranteed any damages, they should be nominal, if the hypothesis that her refusal of entry into Barbados was against her fundamental rights,” Forde noted.
He added that any other claims regarding if her rights were trampled could not be heard by the CCJ. The Barbadian lawyer also suggested to the CCJ that for damages to be determined, a separate assessment hearing outside of the current case should be convened elsewhere.
Regarding Myrie’s evidence, Forde said evidence produced during the Barbados leg of the case had shown the Jamaican woman had been untruthful to Immigration Department officials and which was contrary to what she had provided in statements to Barbadian police. “If you find a witness is telling lies, you can dismiss that evidence in its entirety, even if there are some truths within the testimony. We suggest that her evidence be therefore completely rejected,” Forde urged the court.
The lead lawyers also submitted that the decision made at a Caricom Heads of Government conference in 2007, which says Caricom nationals should be granted automatic six-month stays, is not binding.
According to Forde, Myrie’s lawsuit claiming her fundamental and human rights were breached when she arrived in Barbados three years ago is not valid to be heard in the jurisdiction of the CCJ, since the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, under which the framework of the CCJ is defined, does not have a charter that deals specifically with fundamental rights of Caricom nationals.
Forde noted that for Myrie to claim such discrimination, she would have to seek solace elsewhere.
“That would make good sense. If basic human rights issues were to be observed, then they would be clearly culled out and entrenched in the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, and we would not need the Caribbean Court of Justice to do so,” Forde concluded.
The lawyer also suggested that damages for Myrie, if her human rights were breached, could not be easily determined by the CCJ since the totality of evidence regarding any such breaches had not been brought forward for the current hearing.