Alleged Finger Rape Raises Queries on CARICOM’s Value

We in the Peoples Empowerment Party (PEP) do not know whether Ms Shanique Myrie of Jamaica is telling the truth when she asserts that she was sexually assaulted at Grantley Adams International Airport by a female Barbadian state official who also made derogatory remarks about Jamaicans.

What we do know, however, is that Ms Myrie is not the only female migrant who has alleged that she was indecently assaulted by a state functionary while in the custody of our Immigration Department. There is also the case of Ms Evelyn Mensah of Ghana!

Ms Mensah was one of the 100 odd Ghanaians and Nigerians who were stranded in Barbados in 2008. She was taken into custody by our Immigration Department and was placed in a detention facility. Ms Mensah subsequently alleged that she was sexually assaulted by a male security officer at the said facility.

The matter was reported to the Royal Barbados Police Force, and after carrying out their investigations, the Police arrested and charged the alleged male perpetrator and placed him before the Law Courts. Unfortunately, however, Ms Evelyn Mensah was placed on an airplane with her African compatriots and flown out of Barbados before the criminal charge was heard!

And so, Barbadians should not rush to judgment in the Shanique Myrie case. We should not automatically accept the word of Ms Myrie, nor should we automatically accept the results of the investigation carried out by the Immigration Department. Rather, just like in the case of Evelyn Mensah, this allegation should be investigated by the Royal Barbados Police Force!

Let the Barbados and Jamaican governments make joint arrangements for Ms Myrie to return to Barbados so that she can make a proper report of the alleged crime to our Police Force, and let the matter be treated and determined like any other criminal matter!

However, while our Party cannot pronounce definitively on the Shanique Myrie issue, we can assert that the general attitude of our Immigration Department towards Caribbean and African migrants has undergone a deterioration over the past three years!

There can be no doubt that the change in Government that occurred in Barbados in January 2008 brought with it a significant change in the official policy and attitude of the Barbados Government towards our Caribbean brothers and sisters.

Whatever else one might say about the previous Barbados Labour Party administration, one has to concede that at the highest levels of government they consistently identified with the Caribbean Community and encouraged Barbadians – public servants and private citizens alike – to demonstrate a healthy sense of appreciation of our Caricom brothers and sisters.

The new Democratic Labour Party administration, on the other hand, has done much to undo this positive spirit of regionalism. Indeed, the negative tone was set by former Prime Minister David Thompson who, in winding up his first budget debate, declared on national television that Barbadians were different from other Caribbean people, and were, infact, “entitled” to feel that they were “better” than other Caribbean people.

Of course, the Thompson administration also went on to scuttle the liberal policy of the previous BLP government in relation to intra-Caricom migration, and, wittingly or unwittingly, gave native Barbadians the official green-light to revert to old narrow-minded, small island prejudices.

Unfortunately, our Immigration Department seems to have taken its cue from the political directorate and has regressed to a state in which many Immigration Officers now see Caribbean (and African) migrants merely as potential “problems” to be kept out of Barbados, rather than as brothers and sisters to be welcomed.

David Comissiong is leader of the People’s Empowerment Party.

     

David Comissiong

About David Comissiong

David Comissiong is a Barbadian attorney-at-law and political activist.

20 comments on “Alleged Finger Rape Raises Queries on CARICOM’s Value
  1. Barbados does not want non white visitors to come to their island. They are very hostile to the other Caribbean countries. Already the President of Guyana and the Prime Ministers St Lucia, Guyana and Jamaica have complained about the manner that their nationals are being treated in Barbados.In contrast in Jamaica persons from Barbados are welcomed with open arms and many hold very senior positions in the private sector and Government This should stop. Persons from Barbados shoudl receive the same treatment as they give to other countries
    Alo Jamaica should move out of CARICOM it is a total farce and no benefit to Jamaica. Also Jamaica shoud not join the CCJ

    • Everard, what proof do you have that Barbadians do not welcome non-white visitors to their island? Many non-white nationals of almost every CARICOM country live in Barbados. Many Bajans even marry people from other countries. How would non-participation in CARICOM and the Court help Jamaica’s cause? Jamaicans have historically experienced worse treatment from Britain, which also requires that Jamaicans have visas to travel there – good grounds NOT to use the UK Privy Council as your final court of justice.

  2. Mark Lee –
    I dont recall a plethora of sexual assault allegations against the British by Jamaicans.
    The ones against Barbados are coming so thick and fast its hard to keep track.

    • Oliver, I am not condoning sexual abuse of women or men by police/immigration/customs of any country. What do you propose be done when Jamaicans are similarly treated within its jurisdiction? Should Jamaicans then decide to chuck in the country and its institutions? Maybe we should examine what is driving Jamaicans to leave the country to places once viewed as potential leeches as Mr Bustamante saw them.

      What are the options for the families of innocent Jamaicans killed by Jamaican police and the political system? That trauma is what they are escaping and that environment is what forces the USA, UK, Caymans, Canada etc to treat Jamaicans different to other Caribbean nationals.

      Here’s an excerpt for a case in the Jamaican Supreme Court and the one cited in determining damages:
      Unlawful body cavity search by the female police officer at the Norman Manley. International Airport Police Station. These amount to degrading treatment …
      http://www.sc.gov.jm/Judgments/sc/CLG116_1999.pdf

      7. While she was at the airport she said that she was stripped and searched by a female police officer who inserted her finger in her vagina. Mr. Haisley says that this is an exaggeration because she only mentioned in her witness statement that only her trousers came off and she was searched. I accept that at the very least her trousers were off. If this is so, it is hard to see where else the police officer would be searching but either her anus or vagina. I therefore find on a balance of probabilities that her vagina was invaded by the prying fingers of a police officer. I accept that this was done while she was in the bathroom of the police station. No legislation was pointed to me that authorised this type of search to be conducted by a police officer. There is no evidence that this police officer was a health professional. There was no evidence of the level of hygiene observed by the female officer. The evidence suggested that this bathroom was one in general use. The risk of infection was clear. All this being done to a citizen in circumstances in which the Attorney General has finally accepted had no foundation in fact or law. While she
      was at the police station, she was subjected to further embarrassment arising from comments made by the men and women of the Constabulary Force…

      “14. Both sides relied on Celma Pinnock v The Attorney General for Jamaica Suit No. C.L. 1993 P 188 where a jury on July 27, 1998 awarded the sum of $2,500,000 at 5% interest. The claimant in that case claimed damages for false imprisonment, assault and battery, aggravated and exemplary damages. The jury considered exemplary damages but did not award any because they felt that the sum awarded was sufficiently punitive. The updated figure is $4,793,205 using the August 2005 CPI of 2214.7. In that case, the claimant suffered severe anxiety, severe depression, severe phobic responses related to travel and sexual activity and loss of libido. Miss Pinnock was subjected to a search which had as one of its aggravating features a male police officer forcibly inserting his fingers in her vagina.”

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  4. If your point is the wrongfulness of this kind of treatment, be it in Kingston or Bridgetown, then I agree with you.
    I just didnt understand the comparison between the numerous Barbados allegations and the historical treatment by British authorities.
    I do not agree with Everard Douglas that the recent revelations about Barbadian immigration should be used as a reason for Jamaica not joining the CCJ.
    The undesirability of the CCJ has a lot more serious arguments in its favour without resorting to this one.

    • Actually, I made the reference to the women searched in the UK because they were also accosted for the same reason Ms Myrie said she was in Barbados. The difference is that the British followed the correct procedure of having the searches done by medical personnel and the only issues raised were by women’s advocacy groups concerned about the women who ended up in UK prisons after being used as drug mules abandoned by handlers and their government.

      Like the two Jamaican women illegally searched by a policeman and police woman at Norman Manley International, the correct procedure should be to file law suits and not create diversions for corrupt and inept politicians around the Caribbean to use as excuses for their shirked duties.

      Following this logic of disbanding CARICOM and abandoning the CCJ over the matter, Jamaica should leave the UN or any agency to which countries subscribe in which it is alleged that their nationals have wronged Jamaicans. Pretty soon we’d all be on an island tearing each other apart for every perceived wrong and those in East Kingston should never speak to those in West Kingston. What am I saying….?

  5. If the British followed “the correct procedure” how is that equal to “historically.. worse treatment” than what happens in Barbados?
    I am in agreement with Jamaica ignoring the CCJ, but for far more serious reasons than immigration issues.

    • The bigger issue being discussed as far as I’m concerned is that Jamaicans are being targeted, so whether the search is legal or illegal it is driven by the same motive. The British treatment is “historically worse” when we consider that their queen is our head of state and their Privy Council is our court of last resort. There is no such umbilical link with Barbados. If the paternal relationship can be tested, more so the sibling. The reason the actual legal cavity searches don’t make news is that the women in those cases are found guilty of crimes and go to jail. I’m sure Ms Myrie could possibly be just as vocal and offended if the Bajans had called a nurse or doctor to do the search and she was guilty of no crime.

  6. The issue in this care is whether Myrie suffered a finger rape as she alleges
    This has nothing to do with Jamaica
    marl Lee is wrong in an implied attack on Jamaica. The incident took place in Barbados. It is not necessary to launch an attack on Jamaica or abuse Jamaicans in the process or bring up what happens in Jamaica. Let us just focus on what happened or did not happen in Barbados. This approach by people in Barbados to defend the situation by attacking and demeaning Jamaicans is unnecessary. It will only generate hatred between the countries.

  7. I am a Jamaican and i certainly agree with you George Edwards. The last thing we want is a war of words between Jamaica and Barbados.In the interest of Caribbean unity we should all remain calm and let the authority conduct a fair and impartial investigation before coming to any conclusion.What happen to Ms. Myrie and other Jamaican is wrong in any country or culture It is wrong in Jamaica ,Britain , or any where else for that matter. It is so wrong for people to use one brush and paint all Jamaican. We are almost 3,000,000 strong and yes we have a high crime rate but majority of Jamaicans are peaceful fun loving people. Our success rate in the field of academics ,sports , music etc.speak for itself. In today’s day and age all Caribbean nationals with good intentions and clean record should be able to travel the Caribbean freely without fear of been raped, sexually assaulted, or abused by the relevant authority.

  8. The immediate, outright, denial of a typical body cavity search by Barbadian authorities without a proper investigation is of great concern. If at best, they should have refused to comment on the issue until an investigation was on the way; then they had to retract their initial statements… It is bad enough that white people continue to treat Black people with indignity but it is worse when Black people from the same region (i.e., the same slave ships) do the same.

    A long standing issue has been the build up of enmity against Jamaicans as a result of our referendum vote to choose independence over Federation (for which Jamaica was not the first to pull out). Succeeding generations not born or not adults during that period have been fed the propaganda that the Federation failed because of Jamaica. This is unfortunate as Jamaica is one of the most welcoming nations and the largest CARICOM market.

    While I strongly support free speech and freedom of the press, the defacing of friendly nation’s flag is not a good practice. Let’s not do unto others what we would not want done unto us. Let’s not dive into the gutter and wallow with the pigs. Strive, hold your head up high, and UNITE.

  9. I think that given the current hatred of jamaicans by Barbados it is certainly not a good thing for Cariibean unity and I wonder if CARICOM can continue to exist. The siatuation is very fragile an d things like these will mak e it worse.
    When Bardados and Trinidad had the dispute re flying fish it was taken to teh World Court and teh same thing happened when Surinam had a dispute with Guyana it was again taken to the World Court. The disputes were not settled within CARICOM.
    In the case of jamaica they may well have to leave caricom or at lesst remain in CARICOM but pull out of CSME. jamaica has no economic benefit from CARICOM( see statements from Jamaica Cham,ber of Commerce , Minister of Tarde various editorials in teh Gleaber), the attitude of other Caribbean poeple to jamaica, teh weakness of CSME, the refusal by otherr Caribbean counties to allow jamaican goods into their country. So while Jamaica allows free movement of goods and persons the other countries do not. This is an intolerable situation
    As for the CCJ it is clear that there is liitle interest for CCJ in many countries in Trinidad the Prime Minister said taht she was not interested in the CCJ, in the St Vincent referendum the people voted against entering the CCj, Bahamas has clearly staed that tthey will not participate in the CCJ. Also given tthe hatred against Jamaica tthe CCJ judges may gang up against Jamaica. There is no point for Jamica to be involved in CSME or CCJ. It is not only Jamaica that could walk away from CSME , the OECS are doing well and proceeding with their own integration. Belize is also becoming more integrated with Central America especially as the population is incresingly now becoming more Hispanic and Spanish speaking.
    The sitaution is that in Jamaica by law there has to be a referendum before Jamaica can join the CCJ- read the Jamaica Observer and tthe Gleaner and see if you think people will vote for the CCJ. My view is that there would be a no vote. Also if CSME was put to a referendum there would be a no vote. Jamaicans are very incensed by the hatred that is evident in teh Barbadian press. Also to move out of CARICOM or CSME is not impossible or that difficult as has been suggested. Jamaica is a sovereign country and any country can withdraw from a treaty. The talk of East Kinsgton and west Kinsgton is absurd- Jamaica is one country( and united in teh face of warlike enemies), the eastern Caribbean is thousand of miles away. Barbados and TT and OECS have teh sovereign right to stay in CARICOM an d CSME after all tthey are close together and they are not bashing each other or embarking on a hate campaign
    There is no point having a CARICOM or CSME if there is such hatred of each other

    • The issue isn’t whether it happened in Jamaica first but that when it happened there there was a recourse to justice which should be followed in this case since we’re in the same legal space. So the question whether it was a Bajan or an Antiguan that did it to a Guyanese or Jamaican should not arise but rather how to provide justice. Instead people are making it into how one nationality treats another – which obviously it is not, since Jamaicans also do it to Jamaicans. All over the Caribbean tourists enjoy better immigration/customs privileges than locals.

      Further now, I am saying that in the case of women in particular, they are being victimized by both the criminal drug elements and the official system in response to their being victims of criminals.

  10. I would ask what is it the Jamaican citizens want. Until the Marginalised Majority of Jamaicans demand of their leaders better treatment and respect then leaders like Bartlett can freely go around warning the citizens to Protect and Pamper the Tourist. The problem is double sided. Citizens must demand better treatment from their leaders and leaders must repect and serve citizens based on their demands and expectations. The Marginalised Majority in Jamaica have low standards and expectations of themselves in Jamaica but have high expectations of treatment when they visit Barbados, Cayman, Bahamas etc.

  11. This article raises some key questions which impinge on Caribbean Unity and could in the long run be very serious

    In 2010 Barbados sent back 230 Jamaicans who came to visit there. Jamaican did not send back anyone. In 2011 Barbados sent back 211 Jamaicans who came there to visit for this peiod Jamaica did not send back anyone.
    The Myrie case is not isolated but part a pattern of conduct by Barbadians to Jamaicans and this clearly undermines Caribbean unity. Jamaicans have been complaining about the treatment in Barbados for years and the Jamaican Ministry of Foreign Affaisr has not done anything before the Myrie case. The situation is that Jamaicans are being targeted for hostile action in Barbados merely because they are Jamaicans. Also Barbadinas are refusing entry to Jamaicans in large numbers . So the Myrie case is an extension of this. Also as a background the President of Guyana, the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Prime Misniter of St Vincent have raised the hostile and terrible treatment of their citizens at CARICOM Heads Meetings and also in the press.

    In the articel it is suggested that black persons are being treated differently in Barbados than white vistors. This point in also suggested in Mia Mottley’s very calm an d balanced staement. So it is not too difficult to infer that Barbados is not keen on having balck vistors. I have not heard of any cases of a white toursit being raped by the Police or subject to sexual assault by police , customs or immigration officers.

    The Myrie case, the case of the other jamaican woman raped by two police officers in her cell( she recently identified the police), the case of the woman from Ghana cited in the above article are illustartions. In Jamaica more people are coming forward to report similar abuse. What has been tthe Jamaican response? any Barbadian women attacked and raped by police officers? Any Barbadian students attacked and raped by Police? Any Barbadians targeted by the immigartion officers? Any Barbadians refused entry? Any of the senior Barbadians holding jobs in Jamaica tossed out of their jobs? The answer is a resounding no

    However Jamaica cannot sit back and take the continued abuse of its citizens merely beacuse they are Jamaicans. Last week Prime Minsiter Golding pointed out that this type of behaviour could cause great doubt about CARICOM and indiacted that matter would be raised at Heads Meeting
    A similar sentiment was expressed later in the week by the Jamaican Foreign Affairs Minsiter who gave the press details of the number of Jamaicans being refused entry to Barbados.

    In effect Barbados has declared war on Jamaica and Jamaicans . As former Prime Ministre Own Arthur said very recently this matter could spiral out of control and could harm Barbados more than Jamaica
    The two pillars of CSME were free trade and freedom of movement. Jamaica has great diiiculty in getting its good into Barbados Trinidad or Belize an d its citizens are not free to move within the CSME. What is the point of being in CARICOM or CSME especially with such a huge trade deficit. Jamaica should leave CARICOm and the CSME. Let those who want CARICOM and the CSME remain Jamiaca shoudl stop being a whipping boy in this environment.

    I am sure ifa referendum was held in Jamaica now on CARICOM, CSME or CCJ they would all be rejected
    In respect of the Myrie case given the hatred of Barbadians for Jamaica I do not think she would receive a fair trial and as sugested by Ambassador Hylton( former Jamican Foreign Minsiter and attorney for Myrie) the matter should be taken to an international human rights panel. She would not get a fair hearing in Barbados . The bias against Jamica and Jamaicans too great , the hatred too pervasive.,the mistrust between the two countries too deep.

    Yet still Jamica has not commenced any reprisals against Barbados nor Barbadian citizens in Jamaica. How long this will go on for no one knows, What is a fact thet the Myrie matter, the failure of CARICOm an d the bad treatment of Jamica is to be found daily in Jmaicans papers, on the radio and on TV. So the polulation is fully aware as to what Barbados is doing

    (This comment was submitted from a Guyana IP using a Jamaican email address. ED)

  12. @ Jean Nesbett – There is nothing to compromise about .
    The actions of the Barbadian authorities are either right or wrong and should be so determined by an appropriate tribunal.

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