(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – Shanique Myrie, the Jamaican woman who claimed she was finger-raped by Barbados immigration and security officials and then thrown out of the Caribbean country, was yesterday granted leave by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to take her case to a full sitting of the court in a landmark case against Barbados.
Myrie’s case was taken to the CCJ following allegations that on March 14 last year she was subjected to a dehumanising cavity search, bad-mouthed, locked up in a cold, filthy room before being kicked out of the country the following day by Barbados security and immigration officials.
The case, which is the first from Jamaica to be brought before the CCJ, is expected to be carefully watched by Jamaican legislators, who have for years been divided over whether or not the country should give up the London-based Privy Council as its final court and embrace the CCJ.
At the same time, it could help to change immigration procedures by Barbados, which has for years been accused of the bad treatment of Jamaican and Guyanese nationals especially, raising doubts about whether there is free movement within the Caribbean Community.
Myrie, whose plight was brought to public attention by the Jamaica Observer on March 24, 2012, was yesterday represented by attorneys Michelle Brown and Marc Ramsay.
The Court, which is sitting in Barbados, ruled yesterday that Myrie had made out an arguable case concerning the rights she claimed were breached. She claimed that Barbados denied her right of entry, discriminated against her because she was Jamaican, and breached a number of her fundamental human rights.
When news of Myrie’s ordeal broke, the Barbados Government flatly denied them and accused Myrie of concocting the story. The Barbadian Government also contended that Myrie did not have an arguable case and that they would vigorously defend any claims brought by her in this matter.
However, at yesterday’s sitting of the CCJ, Barbados, after hearing the submissions of lead counsel Michelle Brown, conceded, minutes into their rebuttal that Myrie had in fact made out an arguable case.
The CCJ then ruled that Myrie had fulfilled the requirements of Article 222 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, that she was the direct recipient of rights under the revised treaty, that she had suffered prejudice in the enjoyment of those rights and, that it was in the interest of justice that the matter proceed to a full hearing of the Court.
The Court also ruled that the Barbadian Government should bear the costs of the application.
Myrie’s legal team now has three weeks to file her originating application which will signal the start of the trial phase of the proceedings.