Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith suggests there is a cultural factor behind recent domestic murders.
The revelation by the Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith that there appears to be a “cultural factor” which threads recent domestic abuse cases is interesting if not surprising. We have to give credit to the police force that they have a sound basis for reaching the conclusion that the cause behind some recent domestic disputes is linked to non nationals. Of course many Bajans will be compelled to intervene in the interest of demonstrating ‘balance’ by suggesting the obvious, that is, Bajans are equally committing crime and therefore why blame non nationals. Of course non nationals cannot be blamed for all the crime BUT it does not mean we should play ostrich if there is a trend which has emerged which will add to our crime woes and wider societal challenges. Comprehension is a wonderful thing.
A few years ago when BU led the national discussion about possible sociological repercussions as a consequence of the unbridled immigration policy practiced by the former BLP government under the guise of freedom of movement, we were ridiculed by many. Why is it the ideologues like Peter Wickham, Rickey Sigh, BLP opportunists and others have refused to this day to appreciate that our fragile economies which are mainly service based, owning limited resources to protect borders, an possessing undermanned police forces means that any system which allows the unskilled and ignorant to move about freely across the Caribbean must be carefully ‘managed’? Instead they label such concerns by shouting xenophobia. Have we become do intellectually impotent not to understand that issues will emerge from having unchallenged freedom of movement?
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart delivered a wide ranging address at the Democratic Labour Party’s St. Philip North Branch meeting at the Hilda Skeene Primary School on Sunday, 13thOctober 2013. In a packed room of branch members and party supporters, the DLP President and Prime Minister took the opportunity to thank the constituents of St. Philip North for their overwhelming support for Member of Parliament and Minister of Transport and Works, Michael Lashley in the February 2013 General Elections.
He then went on to reassure those gathered that life in Barbados is normal despite what they had been hearing from an Opposition which he described as, “a hastily put together coalition of the restless, reckless and the rejected.” He dismantled all of the recent Opposition attempts to foment unrest in Barbados by explaining the country’s position as it relates to the management of the economic challenges by protecting the foreign exchange reserves through the deficit reduction programme introduced in the 2013 Budgetary Proposals.
His wide-ranging presentation dealt with the payment of UWI tuition fees by Barbadian students, the status of temporary employees in the public service, the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, the Transport Board and the CCJ’s Judgement in the Shanique Myrie Case.
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) decision between Shanique Myrie and Barbados (Jamaica the Intervener) continues to resonate across the region – editorials, talk shows and on the streets. What is evident is that members of Caricom need to better manage how we promote freedom of movement given our obligation under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramus (RTC).
There is the view that significant weight was given by the CCJ to the 2007 Conference Decision by Heads of Caricom [item 45]. In simple terms: can we say that the decision handed down last week is what Heads of Caricom intended in 2007 i.e. “definite entry of six months …”. The fact that Barbados argued against the efficacy of the 2007 decision without a single intervention from another Caricom member was taken as acquiescence by the CCJ. Barbados therefore has to abide by the decision until such time a similar case in re-argued before a CCJ with justices of a different interpretation or lobby to have Heads modify the decision at the next Heads of Caricom meeting.
Loud by its silence has been the reaction of Barbados to the decision. The DNA of the Barbados government is to be slow in deliberation. One wonders though if the Prime Minister sees a need to demonstrate a departure from the norm given the psychological punch Barbadians have taken since the decision was delivered. Is there a role for the leader of the country in the prevailing circumstances?
This week in the news we learned that a Canadian woman will have to remove her Niqab in order to testify against her attackers. This is a case which has occupied the attention of the Courts for five years – read Niqab ban in sexual assault trial causes controversy. Also in the news this week, and closer to home, we heard from Jamaican Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade AJ Nicholson uttering his concern that Jamaica is not satisfied with how free movement of nationals across the Caribbean Community (Caricom) is being facilitated – read Nicholson to address Jamaican travel across CARICOM.
BU took interest in the comments of Nicholson because he pointed to the Shanique Myrie case which is pending before the Caribbean Court of Appeal. By doing so he made his intention obvious that Barbados was in his ‘gun sight’.
In strictly legal terms the two cases are unrelated BUT for BU the cases resonate because in the Canadian judgement there is a sense that the laws of Canada are in consonance with the expectation of mainstream society. In the case of the Myrie matter one gets the feeling that Barbados is being bombarded by some obligation under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas even at the risk of compromising its rights as a sovereign country. Are we a sovereign country or not? Why doesn’t Jamaica take a similar case to the World Court to challenge the decision to refuse their citizens entry into the USA, UK and several other developed countries which occur with frequency on a daily basis. If they were to pursue this avenue one may believe that their motive in the Myrie case is sincere.
BU has resisted writing – up to now – about the Shanique Myrie matter. Many disagreed with Shanique Myrie’s legal advisors who made the decision to access the Caribbean Court Justice (CCJ) to rule on her (Myrie) right to move freely under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. After yesterday’s ruling by the CCJ to give special leave to Myrie to argue her case before the court, she must feel vindicated. This is against the background that many of our local legal beavers had opined that the CCJ has no jurisdiction in the matter until the case came to them on appeal from the Barbados courts. Barbados because we are a member of Caricom is bound by the interpretation of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in all matters as it relates to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
If we suck all of the emotion out of the matter, the Shanique Myrie versus the Government of Barbados case will be followed with great interest across the region. To what extent will this case threaten the discretion which traditionally has been exercised by officers at ports of entry in Caricom countries? If Myrie continues her winning ways, it potentially could provoke some countries who are signatories, to question obligations under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramus as it relates to free movement of people.
To rub salt into the wound for some Myrie was awarded cost. To be fair it should be noted that at this stage the CCJ has given special leave to hear this matter i.e. the CCJ believes there is a case to be made. Myrie’s legal team now has to argue the case.
The following is reproduced from the Barbados Advocate and gives a good summary of the special sitting of the CCJ on the matter.
The much publicized Myrie Affair occurred in April this year. By all accounts Barbados came out of the affair with a bloody nose if we are to judge by the comments made by all and sundry. Despite the vitriol spouted from both sides Barbadians, Jamaicans and onlookers are none the wiser what actually happened to Shanique Myrie when she attempted to cross the border of Barbados. She alleges that she was inappropriately searched by local officials, a charge which was denied. In the absence of substantive evidence who does one believe?
What was evident from the episode is that the Jamaican media and political directorate were in cahoots to ensure Jamaican Myrie’s story was propagated and propagandized. To be expected we had the so-called regionalists like Peter Wickham, Rickey Singh, David Commissiong et al who abandoned the need to be patriotic and gleefully jumped across to the other side of the debate.
BU does not intend to paper over any indiscretions made by Barbadian agencies if any did occur at all in the Myrie incident. Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart’s offer for Myrie to return to Barbados to facilitate meaningful investigation remains unaccepted after several months. The haste with which Jamaicans and others across the region used the opportunity to exposed a latent dislike for Barbados cannot be ignored. Some in local media and elsewhere would want Barbadians to ignore the obvious and not rock the CSME boat. It always has to be Barbados to turn the other cheek!
Hopefully the Myrie issue will be fully investigated and the matter put to bed, although we doubt it! It seems passing strange that Jamaica and Guyana should be the countries complaining about treatment meted out at our border. These two regional countries represent the largest land masses in the English speaking Caribbean. In a sensible world regional labour flows should be in the other direction. Not to forget St. Vincent which has also been making negative noises directed at Barbados. St. Vincent like Jamaica has become a major source of drugs entering Barbados.
It is worthy of discussion that both Jamaica and Guyana have resorted to exporting labour of late to the tiny islands of the Eastern Caribbean. It appears to be a consequence of the harsh economic times being experienced by the respective economies, or is it? Casual observation detects that a large body of unskilled labour has been entering Barbados from these two countries. The argument which is given by the apologists is that our agricultural sector has been the beneficiary of a Guyanese presence, so what it the point? The Barbados Workers Union has given its blessing to a registry or some enrolled system being implemented to regulate labour to this sector. The solution has always been a simple one!
In the case of Jamaica we could explain the apprehension demonstrated at our border by stating that there is probably no country in the world which does not feel and act similarly. We all know why. BU does not condone actions by our officials which would seek to dehumanize anyone. There is a legitimate reason for Barbadians to fear the consequences of an influx of Jamaicans into Barbados. Our court and prison are already providing ample evidence that we are correct in our fear. Also Barbadians have become very aware that our red light activity has become saturated by Jamaican and Guyanese personnel. Last week Barbados Police were involved in two major drug busts where Jamaicans and Guyanese figured prominently.
Senator Maxine McClean, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Today has been an interesting day so far. It was a day arch-enemies India and Pakistan battled in a World Cup cricket semi-final. The game from media reports was played in a cordial atmosphere which India won. There was a time in the not too distant past when the events of today would not have been thought possible. The moral of this story you ask? There is hope that a truce in the ‘war of words’ which has broken out between Jamaica and Barbados will soon come to past.
To restate BU’s position, an allegation was made by a Jamaican national which was deposited, by her, in Jamaica’s media space. The result of it is that her allegation has whipped-up a national frenzy which has seen a level of vitriol hurled at Barbados hitherto not experienced. The immigration brouhaha between Guyana does not even come close to what is currently unravelling. The response of many Barbadians, known in the region for our passive and docile manner, appears to have taken some by surprise.
Not since the era of the late Rt. Excellent Errol Walton Barrow, who was not afraid to signal to Cowboy Ronald Reagon where to get off, have we had leaders who were prepared to fearlessly defend our sovereignty. BU is supportive of Minister Maxine McClean who has been forced to fill the enormous leadership vacuum which seems to exist in this regard. Senator Maxine McClean’s record is there to be scrutinized by her critics, a respected UWI, Cave Hill lecturer for several years and a regional consultant before agreeing to enter the cabinet of the current administration. Her commitment to regional harmony cannot be credibly questioned. Unlike some in Barbados, she appears to be acutely aware of where Barbados finds itself at this period in our history.
Harry Husbands, Parliamentary Secretary for immigration
Today’s Jamaica Observer highlights a story which alleges that a Shanique Myrie was “subjected to two demeaning cavity searches by a female immigration officer who continuously spewed venom about Jamaicans.” Immediately the question came to mind, how could the immigration officer have performed the cavity search in a manner that was not demeaning? The incident has provoked the elusive Parliamentary Secretary responsible for immigration Harry Husbands to respond to the story. It appears the lady was not allowed into Barbados for a legitimate reason.
Those of us who have travelled the world are aware of the limitless authority immigration and custom officials appear to possess. Individuals who are compliant with the law usually have nothing to fear. If we accept the position of the government conveyed by Husbands, Shanique Myrie was ‘pulled’ for a legitimate reason. All of those who are shouting for murder should remember Jamaica is a destination where drug mules originate in abundance. It is no excuse to profile people to the extent they are victimized or dehumanized, however simple logic says Barbados must protect its borders. If an immigration officer is found to be overzealous in carrying out their duty, there is a process to seek redress. The Jamaica Observer’s article is therefore alarmist, sensational and smacks of Jingoism.