A team of Caribbean lawyers are being put together to look at possible legal action against the Government of Barbados and its Immigration Department.
This was announced in St. George’s by local attorney-at-law, Ruggles Ferguson who has been retained by the Gilbert family of Springs in St. George’s following an alleged embarrassing episode at the hands of Immigration officials in the neighbouring island.
“We have built a Caribbean team around this matter, and that we’re looking at all the possible courses of legal action, and settling on which is the most effective in the circumstances. We have identified lawyers from Jamaica in the north to Guyana in the south,” Ferguson told THE NEW TODAY newspaper.
Two of Gilbert’s daughters were stripped searched by the Immigration after a female business owner filed a theft complaint.
Ferguson, the lead lawyer in Ciboney Chambers, described the incident as being totally outrageous and said situations like what the two sisters experienced have for too long been happening in Barbados.
He said he is in the process of gathering information, seeking the assistance of other Attorneys in the region in his quest to take legal action against the Barbadian Authorities.
In 2011, Jamaican National, Shanique Myrie was verbally abused, subjected to sexual abuse, locked up in a cell and kicked out of Barbados by the Immigration.
Myrie took her case to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and the Barbadian Government was required to pay her US$ 38,000 in damages in the face of complaint that she was subjected to a dehumanising cavity search by a female Immigration Officer at Grantley Adams International
The two sisters who are the daughters of well known Evangelical Minister, Pastor Royston Gilbert of Springs alleged that they were humiliated by Bajan Police Officers while on a business trip to Barbados in October.
The sisters, Tamika and Lynnel Gilbert were reportedly stripped-searched at a police station in Bridgetown after they were accused of stealing a cellular phone from a store at Mall 34.
The store owner accused the sisters of stealing her phone which they vehemently denied.
Tamika who spoke to this newspaper over the incident said that after her family which includes her father, mother and sister had made a successful application for renewal of their United States Visa at the Embassy in Barbados on October 11th, they went out shopping in Bridgetown.
The sisters said they were in the company of their aunt and cousin who reside in Barbados.
According to Tamika, she was shopping at a store in a Mall when the store owner from another store that they had visited earlier came up and asked if she had stolen her phone.
“I told her I didn’t steal it, and if she wants she can come check my bag. She said she don’t want to, but my sister and I, we checked our bag in front of her,” she said.
Tamika indicated that the woman then told them she will check her closed circuit camera, and will get the police involved in the matter.
Moments later the store owner returned with the police who conducted a search of their bags.
The young lady said they were then taken away to a police station where they were stripped-searched.
Tamika spoke of being ordered to let down her hair which was in braids, had her entire clothes including her underwear removed, and made to stoop down and cough.
The same thing happened to her sister, Lynnel.
The affected lady said that she was placed under duress in making an amendment to her written statement to the police.
“Before we left we had an issue with my statement in which at the end I said the last thing that happened to me when I was in custody I was subjected to an embarrassing body search, and they wanted me to take off that line,” she added.
Tamika stated that the police officer who took the statement told her they cannot accept it and she needed to understand that they (the police) have to safeguard themselves since they had a previous running with a Jamaican woman.
With time running out and having a flight to catch, Tamika gave the police officer permission to put whatever she wanted in the statement in order to get back to the Spice Isle.
She said they received an apology from an Inspector of Police who claimed that the police at that time were conducting an exercise.
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell who has been made aware of the incident has said that it is time for his counterpart in Barbados to reign in some of his Immigration officers.