Jamaica-Barbados abuse fight heats up


The raging controversy over the
alleged “finger-rape” of a 22-year-old Jamaican woman by a female
Barbadian immigration officer being discussed in Belize by the foreign ministers
of the two concerned Caribbean Community (Caricom) states.

The face-to-face encounter between
Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Dr Ken Baugh and his
Barbadian counterpart Maxine McClean is taking place during a scheduled two-day
meeting of Council of Ministers of the CARIFORUM Group of countries (Caricom
plus Dominican Republic), which concludes on Friday.

Probes are under way in both
countries into the circumstances and veracity of the accusation by the complaining
victim, Shanique Myrie.

They currently involve the police,
high-profile legal counsel, and in the case of Jamaica, its Public Defender
Earl Witter and the Women’s Movement of the Opposition People’s National Party.

And, with Barbados being quite on
the defensive in questioning the credibility of Myrie’s claims, this very
sensitive issue — which is also being linked to often reported discomforting
problems experienced on intra-regional travels by nationals of the 15-member
Caricom — now seems heading for urgent, wider consideration by the member governments.

The focus is on the perceived need
for a review of the professional functions of immigration officers generally,
and ethical practices to be followed in dealing with nationals of all countries
arriving at the ports of entry.

Complaints of unfair, discriminatory
and unethical behaviour being meted out to Caricom nationals arriving at some
ports of entry in the region have become a distressing regular feature.

In the current controversy
involving Barbados and Jamaica, the foreign ministers of both countries have been
in communication following an Observer report on 24 March on the alleged abuse
of Myrie.

Myrie was a first-time visitor to
Barbados and provided graphic details to the Observer of her detention, and the
alleged humiliating postures and repeated acts of the demeaning cavity search
to which she was subjected by the immigration officer who, she claimed, had
taken off her official name tag and unleashed expletives against Jamaicans
coming into Barbados.

Myrie also claimed that she was
also forced to share a small, untidy bed in a cold untidy room in an immigration
cell with another woman (Jamaican national Rickrisha Rowe) at the Grantley
Adams International Airport.

They were both deported
early the following morning after just being given time to brush their teeth.