A Jamaican delegation will travel to Barbados on Wednesday March 30 to investigate claims made by a Jamaican woman, Shanique Myrie, that she was stripped and twice subjected to cavity search at the Grantley Adams International Airport in Bridgetown.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Dr. Kenneth Baugh, told the House of Representatives, Thursday March 29, the team will be led by High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago, Sharon Saunders, Chief Executive Officer of Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA), Jennifer McDonald and will include police from the Organized Crime Unit.
He said that the delegation will seek a full legal brief on the matter, on which the Barbadian authorities will be requested to answer. The result of the visit will determine the next step to be taken at the diplomatic level by Jamaica.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is aware that Miss Myrie has contacted legal services to defend her rights, vis-a-vis the Barbadian authorities. That is a second parallel track with which the Ministry will collaborate,” he stated.
Dr. Baugh also told the House that the Ministry received a report from Miss Myrie on March 23, in which she recounted graphic details of her experience at the entry point of the Grantley Adams International Airport, Barbados.
The Deputy Prime Minister said that, upon receipt of the report, the Ministry instructed High Commissioner Saunders, who is also accredited to Barbados, to advise the Barbadian Foreign Ministry of the formal complaint and to request a full investigation. He has also contacted the Minister of Foreign Affairs Foreign Trade in Barbados, Senator Maxine McClean, who has promised to conduct an investigation into the allegations.
A formal note expressing the grave concerns of the Government of Jamaica was also faxed to the Barbadian Foreign Ministry on March 25. The note indicated that Miss Saunders was instructed to visit Barbados to discuss not only Miss Myrie’s case, but the broader question of negative attitudes which could undermine bilateral relations and CARICOM solidarity.
“I was called by Minister McClean on March 26 and informed of the results of the investigation. She sent me an email with the text of her press release on the findings which, she said, proved that the report of Miss Myrie was false,” Dr. Baugh said.
The Deputy Prime Minister said a meeting was convened Tuesday March 29, at which Miss Myrie and her legal representative provided information on the case. Participants also included senior representatives of the Attorney General’s Chambers.
“That meeting found no reason for agreement with the Barbados claim, but rather considered that the matter demanded a fuller investigation where due process would be respected,” Dr. Baugh said.
Leader of the Opposition, the Most Hon Portia Simpson Miller, commended the Ministry for taking on the allegations made by Miss Myrie in a serious way.
“I really believe we should see to it that our people be treated with respect, and that their dignity be not trampled on,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.
Jamaica has also requested that the issue of the treatment of CARICOM nationals at border entry ports be placed on the agenda of the Working Group on Free Movement, which is scheduled to meet from April 4 to 7.
By LATONYA LINTON, JIS Reporter