Former Caricom Ambassador wants review of treatment of Caricom nationals

Former Caricom Ambassador to Haiti, Earl Huntley, has called for a constant review of the way regional immigration officials treat Caricom nationals.

Huntley, who is also a former Saint Lucia Ambassador to Caricom, spoke in in the wake of fresh complaints by at least two Jamaican women and a pregnant Guyanese about their treatment at the Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados.

He told the Times that such stories seem to be emanating mainly from Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados involving Guyanese and Jamaicans, although Barbados declared in the last case that 99.7 percent of Jamaicans are not refused entry.

“I think the persistence of these stories shows that authorities should be constantly reviewing how their immigration officials treat Caricom nationals,” Huntley told the Times.

He asserted that clearly something was not right.

Huntley expressed the view that one of the reasons for the stories was that Caricom governments did not public laud the Shanique Myrie ruling.

He felt if that had been the case, it would have sent a clear message to immigration officials and the people of the region.

“The case received a lot of publicity around the region but there was not an outpouring of government support,” Huntley recalled, adding that the Shanique Myrie ruling reaffirmed travel without harassment or impediments.

Just recently the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Doctor Ralph Gonsalves, asserted that the real problem was not regional governments, but rather lay with the refusal of some immigration officers to carry out the law as specified in the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) case involving Myrie.

Myrie was awarded damages in the sum of US$38,000 by the CCJ after she filed a lawsuit claiming she was subjected to a dehumanizing cavity search by a female immigration officer at Grantley Adams International Airport, locked in a filthy room overnight and deported to Jamaica in March 2011.

The CCJ had also ruled that Barbados should foot the bill of Myrie’s legal costs and said the action was a serious breach of her right of entry into that country.

Doctor Ralph Gonsalves asserted that some immigration officers should be sanctioned and restrained.

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