Thursday 9 April, 2020

Barbados denies unfair treatment of Jamaican national

The Barbados Immigration Department has denied any wrongdoing or mistreatment of a Jamaican national who was detained last month at the Grantley Adams International Airport in that eastern Caribbean island and is now awaiting deportation. 

The attorney representing the Jamaican man, Kivesi Andrae McPherson, has reportedly indicated that a lawsuit against the Barbados government was being considered for unlawful detention. 

McPherson, who arrived in Barbados on December 30, 2019 on a Caribbean Airlines flight from Jamaica, was reportedly found carrying a laptop bag which contained three taped packages of cannabis concealed in a false compartment. He was arrested, charged and pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis, possession with intent to supply, trafficking and importation of cannabis when he appeared in court on January 9, 2020. 

McPherson was fined Bajan $8,000, with an alternative of nine months’ imprisonment for the importation of cannabis. He was convicted, reprimanded and discharged for possession of the drug, possession with intent to supply and trafficking.

The fine was not paid immediately and he was forced to commence his sentence in prison. On January 10, 2020, the fine was paid and McPherson was released into the custody of the Immigration Department. 

The statement from the Immigration Department said McPherson was detained, according to the Immigration Act, awaiting deportation, which was scheduled for January 13, 2020. 

"Caribbean Airlines requires that permission for persons being deported from Barbados must be requested 48 hours in advance in order to travel on its aircraft.  That request was made on January 10, 2020, for McPherson to travel.

"On January 13, 2020, the Immigration Department received written confirmation from the General Manager of Caribbean Airlines indicating that permission was granted by their Security Manager for McPherson to travel to Jamaica.

"The following day, he was checked in by Caribbean Airlines personnel, and ... escorted by an Immigration Officer to the boarding gate at 5.15 a.m. However, the captain of the aircraft refused to accept McPherson on board because he was not escorted by an Immigration Officer to Jamaica.  It should be noted that it is not customary for the Immigration Department to provide escorts in these circumstances.  Usually, the airline readily accepts such persons without objection."

The Immigration Department said the general manager of the airline informed he would have to get additional clearance from the security manager in Trinidad, and correspondence would be sent when permission was given to travel. Such permission was granted on January 15, 2020.

"During the time that McPherson was detained, his attorney, Asante Brathwaite, was aware that the Immigration Department did not have any control over the airline, and that the department had met all of its obligations with respect to the repatriation of persons being deported.

"She was never prevented from speaking with or visiting her client. The department’s records show that she visited McPherson at 7.47 pm. on January 10, 2020, and again on January 14, 2020, at 5.39 pm. He was also allowed to contact his family members via telephone; provided with meals, shower and toilet facilities and a room to sleep.  His basic human rights were not in any way violated."

The statement also stated the detainee was provided with three mails a day and on two separate occasions meals had to be bought for him because he was "did not like the meal that was offered". On one occasion, he purchased a meal for himself from Chefette Restaurants and on another occasion he refused breakfast "because he was upset that he was denied travel". 

The Immigration Department maintains they did "everything in its power to repatriate McPherson in a timely manner", noting delays in his departure was not the fault of the Department. 

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