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Forde:You have to pass the test

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

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You can only have the right to stay in Barbados for six months as a CARICOM national, if you first pass the test to enter the country in the first place.
That argument was provided to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) this morning by Roger Forde, the country’s lead attorney in the lawsuit filed by Shanique Myrie of Jamaica.
At the start of what is expected to be a two-and-half hour closing argument, the Queens Counsel also urged the CCJ to rule that a CARICOM conference decision in 2007 which states CARICOM nationals should be allowed into member states for six months so as to develop a feeling of belonging to the region, is not binding because it was never written into local law.
According to Forde, the conference decision, even if it is determined to be binding by the CCJ, cannot trump the ability of Barbados’ border officials to thoroughly determine the desirability of any CARICOM national seeking to enter Barbados.
Myrie, a 25-year-old Jamaican female, is alleging that she was subjected to inhumane treatment, inclusive of a body-cavity search, when she came to Barbados for the first time on March 14, 2011.
Myrie was initially granted permission to enter Barbados, but that clearance was cancelled less than an hour later after investigations by senior Immigration Officer, Merlo Reid showed she had lied about who her host would be in Barbados.
“Merlo Reid did not reject Shanique Myrie because of the colour of her shoes or the colour of her hair. He did not deny her entry because she was a Jamaican. He denied her because it was discovered she was untruthful,” Forde told the court.
The lead attorney noted that general questions could lead border officials to determine if persons wanting to enter a country were desirable, and even though a CARICOM decision entitles them to a six-month stay, each national should have to continue to show that he or she is a desirable person, and would not be a charge to the public funds.