EDITORIAL: More than a CCJ sitting
More than anything else, the historic Barbados sitting of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) will perhaps be best remembered for the court’s determination that this country has a case to answer regarding claims by Jamaican Shanique Myrie that she had been subjected to a cavity probe by a local immigration officer and had been refused entry into the island.
But there are important dimensions of both the initial determinative hearing and the upcoming case other than the strictly legal aspects. One is that the judges’ April 18 ruling favoured a citizen of a country that up until recently has been quite hostile to joining Barbados, Belize and Guyana as signatories to the CCJ as the region’s final court of appeal.
By showing that a Jamaican litigant at a court hearing in Barbados can get a positive outcome the decisio will go a long way towards erasing doubts among Jamaicans and other sceptical Caribbean nationals about the court’s ability and willingness to be fair, objective and just.
The fact that the proceedings in Barbados could be viewed live on the Internet should have also added to the credibility of the proceedings that were the first to be conducted outside of the CCJ base in Trinidad and Tobago base and help create for Caribbean people a greater sense of involvement and identification with the still developing crucial Caribbean institution.
That apart, it is hoped that as the Myrie case makes its way through the legal process we won’t return to the rampant emotionalism and petty nationalism that prevailed when this issue first broke. This is a very real possibility, given the sensitive and still explosive nature of the evidence that will have to be publicly presented when her substantive case gets under way.
When that takes place, it will certainly be a robust test of the maturity of the national psyche of both Jamaicans and Barbadians, in particular, as to whether we will be prepared to take this detailed information in our collective stride and leave the resolution to the members of the very same CCJ who have already demonstrated their professionalism, balance and fair play.
In a sense, then, more than Myrie and Barbadian officials will be on trial. Also being severely tested will be the underlying sense of regional togetherness, for whose fortification generations of Caribbean people have been striving.