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Barbados imprisoned Jamaican man for two years without charges filed against him.

A Jamaican man, who claims he was locked up in the maximum security section of Her Majesty’s Prison in Barbados for two years without being brought before a court, says he is suing that state for false imprisonment, wrongful arrest and pain and suffering.

Fifty-year-old Jahnoy Cassells said the xenophobia of an immigration officer resulted in him being arrested and thrown into prison despite committing no crime or breaching any immigration law. Cassells said he was living in Guyana and travelled to Barbados at the invitation of the Barbadian parents of his girlfriend, who was born in Guyana.

“I got no hassle at the airport and was in Barbados for a couple weeks before I decided to access a work permit so I could organise a reggae concert featuring Sugar Minott, who fathered four children with my sister,” Cassells told the Jamaica Observer.

It was when he went to the immigration department in Barbados in January 2010, Cassells said, that his ordeal began.

He said after an immigration officer began perusing his application, the officer told him that Jamaicans were not wanted in that eastern Caribbean state. “He just said ‘we don’t want you here’. I asked why and said what he was doing was wrong but he took my documents and arranged for me to be taken to the (Grantley Adams) airport.

They locked me in a cell and tried to deport me the next day,” he said. Cassells claimed that the immigration official, upon learning that he was in the country with his Guyanese girlfriend, sent for the woman and ordered her to bring his belongings.

“When she arrived with my things, them lock her up too, and send her out of the country. Dem tell her say she should never deh with no Jamaican, is a Barbadian she should have and she wouldn’t get that treatment,” he said. According to Cassells, his Jamaican passport had expired and he was given special documents with which to travel by the Guyanese Government.

The authenticity of the documents were not challenged by the Barbadian authorities at the airport, he said, and he even made efforts to collect the passport, for which he had previously applied, from the Jamaican consulate in Barbados as the consulate in Guyana had recently shut down operations.

“The next day they came for me and attempted to deport me, but I refused, all the time telling them that I did not commit myself criminally so I can’t be deported and what they were doing was wrong,” he said. “The immigration officer attempted to give my documents to an air hostess and I objected strongly because she was not qualified to handle my documents.

They handed the boarding pass and the documents to me and I tore them up. The pilot then stepped in and said he was not flying with me,” he said. But Cassells’s actions only seemed to infuriate the Barbadian authorities more and soon he was carted off to prison, he alleged.

“They came for me in plainclothes and took me to Her Majesty’s Prison. There I was placed in the maximum security section with convicted murderers and all kinds of hardened criminals when I never committed a crime,” he said, while fighting back tears. He claimed to have endured a life of hell for two years inside the penal facility which is located at St Phillips and houses male, female and juvenile detainees and convicts.

“I was only let out to bathe. It was constant lock-down. I don’t eat meat and they carried pork for me. I went on a hunger strike and they stripped me of my clothes and locked me down in a cell with just four walls for weeks. I had to sleep on bare concrete naked.

I endured hell and all the while I was thinking that I never committed a crime to deserve such inhumane treatment,” he said. Cassells claimed to have witnessed an inmate on the R block where he was housed commit suicide. “The man had months to go to finish his sentence and his mother came to look for him regularly.

I watched as he tore up a sheet and hung himself in his cell. That is how hard the prison conditions are. His sentence would soon be over and he still killed himself,” Cassells said. He said after a while he began contemplating suicide himself, when it seemed that he had no hope of attaining freedom.

“The warders kept telling the other prisoners that I was withholding information from customs. I was never taken to court and every letter I wrote to the Jamaican consulate, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and my relatives were torn up by the guards. No one knew where I was,” he said. The obviously broken man told the Sunday Observer that after he had spent one year and eight months incarcerated, a guard overheard him planning to kill himself and had him taken to a psychiatrist.

“I told the psychiatrist I was not crazy but had been kidnapped and locked in the prison for almost two years without being taken to court or committing any crime. He was very shocked and told me to keep it to myself as he was going to assist me. The doctor got in touch with the Jamaican consulate and efforts started to be made to get me out,” he said.

With tears in his eyes, Cassells claimed that it was only then that he was allowed to contact his relatives. “I called my son’s mother in Canada and immediately she started asking me how I treat her so and how my son was wondering if I was dead. I told her what happened to me and she grew very upset and demanded to speak to the prison authorities.

I put them on the phone, but I am not sure what they said,” he claimed. The Sunday Observer has since contacted the woman in Canada who confirmed that she had written him off and was shocked to know of his ordeal. “I wasn’t sure if he was still alive. They did not give me any good explanation why they treated him like that and locked him up for nothing.

It was a terrible time for my son, who kept asking for his father,” the woman said. Cassells is the father of four more children. When the details of his tribulation at the hands of the Barbadian authorities came to light, the Jamaican Government started making efforts to get him out of prison. In three months, exactly two years to the date when he was flung into a maximum security cell, he was released.

“I never even knew that Michael Jackson died. I never saw daylight for a long time. There were Africans in the prison who overstayed their time and they were held in the minimum security section where they could play cards and watch TV, but because I was Jamaican they treated me like a dog,” Cassells charged.“I did not deserve that treatment, as I am an honest man who has never been in trouble with the law.

They robbed me of two years of my life for nothing,” he said. Cassells was full of praise for the bravery of Shanique Myrie, who was recently awarded damages by the Caribbean Court of Justice against Barbados for inhumane treatment at the hands of a female Barbadian immigration official who subjected her to a degrading body cavity search, and accused her of coming to Barbados to steal their men and being a drug mule.

Myrie was locked in a filthy cell before being deported back to Jamaica the following day. “I am proud of what she has done because I, too, have felt it at the hands of the Barbadians and it is no lie that they hate Jamaicans and Guyanese people,” he said. Repeated attempts over the past three weeks by the Sunday Observer to contact Barbadian attorney Alair Shepherd, who Cassells says is representing him, have not been successful.



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Comment by Mervin E Yearwood on November 12, 2013 at 9:50am

People are very uninformed including myself. Jamaican and Barbadian negative relationship seen to be blown out of proportion. Indeed their are possibility of official being over zealous in carrying out their duties. These two nation are in CARICOM ,Commonwealth and should be under the same laws and enforcement of these laws.

Jamaican corporations have invest heavily in the economy of Barbados i.e.. Sandals Resort and many other companies.

A sit down with all immigration departments should create some uniformed protocol on enforcement and punishment for persons with issues. 

The intermingling of the Jamaican,Guyanese goes back to colonial days.

This mans treatment seen to be a "John Doe" case this what happens in correctional institutions all over when an inmates paper work seems to go into a "Dream State 

Peace to all the Caribbean Nations !

Comment by Dequom on November 12, 2013 at 7:45am
Some parts in that story don't mek no sense but from d time ppl hear Barbados dem ready to jump...
Comment by Maria on November 12, 2013 at 7:36am
Im sorry but if you are escorted to the airport then you need to leave. Who tears up their documents. Also who travels with expired documents. If you do you are asking to be locked up
Comment by Marlon brown on November 12, 2013 at 1:19am

When Black people stand up for their right they are classified as been stupid and then abused . When people of other races stand up for there rights they are classified as " Patriots" and praised. The fact is, all we want is equality not special treatment or favors.

Comment by CALEE on November 12, 2013 at 12:07am

Mr. Mitchell, I will pay close attention to the video shown by Tall Island Girl, especially around 10:45 minute. I rest my case.

Comment by vaughn mitchell on November 11, 2013 at 10:50pm

boycott, their  ass, they are racist, and jealous of Jamaicans.

Comment by caribbeanrose on November 11, 2013 at 7:26pm

Stop traveling to Barbados, boycott these people. Sue, Sue, Lawsuit. The Immigration in trinidad no better either. like that nasty Indian man, at the airport I hate his guts. When you traveling to people country play nice don't give these a****** no excuse to lock you up

Comment by Mervin E Yearwood on November 11, 2013 at 12:40pm

Caribbean Community and Common Market

BY CONSTITUTIONAL LAW GROUP | NOVEMBER 8, 2013 · 8:47 AM
Derek O’Brien: CARICOM: ‘a new legal order’?
The recent case of Myrie v Barbados, in which the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) held that the actions of the Barbados immigration authorities in refusing entry to a Jamaican national violated the automatic right of entry granted to all CARICOM nationals pursuant to a Decision of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM Member States in 2007 (the 2007 Decision) is likely to be of huge practical relevance in terms of promoting the right of free movement between Member States for all CARICOM nationals. The case is also, however, of considerable constitutional significance for the Member States of CARICOM and it is its constitutional impact which I wish to focus on in this blog.

Background

The Caribbean Community and Common Market (commonly known as CARICOM) was established in 1973 by the Treaty of Chaguramas (ToC) with broadly the same aims and objectives as the European Economic Community, upon which it was broadly modelled. Curiously, however, for a common market there was no provision for the free movement of workers. In fact, the principle of free movement was expressly disavowed by Article 38 of the ToC, which provided that:

Nothing in this Treaty shall be construed as requiring or imposing any obligation on a Member State to grant freedom of movement to persons into its territory whether or not such persons are nationals of other member states of the common market.

Following two decades of economic stagnation, however, it was agreed by the Heads of Government in the early 1990s that CARICOM should move to the next level of integration by establishing a Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), which would, among other things, make provision for ‘hassle free travel’ (allowing CARICOM nationals to travel between Member States without the need for a passport); free movement between Member States for certain categories of skilled CARICOM nationals; and the right of CARICOM nationals to establish a business and to provide services in another Member State. All of these rights (with the exception of ‘hassle free travel’) were embodied in Chapter III of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC), which also committed Member States to the ultimate goal of permitting free movement between Member States for all CARICOM nationals (Article 45 RTC). One year after the ratification of the RTC, the 2007 Decision to permit all CARICOM nationals a right of entry and an automatic six month stay marked another significant milestone in the journey along the path towards free movement for all; with only Antigua and Barbuda entering a reservation in respect of the Decision. The 2007 Decision was also of considerable symbolic importance because for the first time the link between the right to free movement and economic activity was expressly severed.

Implementation of this last mentioned right has however proved to be particularly problematic. An Appraisal Report prepared by the CARICOM Secretariat in 2009, for example, noted that, Guyana apart, none of the Member States had amended their immigration laws to give effect to a right of entry and an automatic six month stay for all CARICOM nationals. Instead, the Appraisal Report notes that the right of entry was being dealt with administratively at the port of entry and this had led to a great deal of dissatisfaction throughout the region. This has been confirmed by Tillman Thomas, the Prime Minister of Grenada, who has observed that the failure consistently to apply the automatic right to a six months stay across the region has led to ‘confusion and perceptions of discriminatory treatment amongst Community nationals.’ In his view there had been a fundamental lack of clarity about the degree of administrative discretion exercised by immigration officials; the grounds upon which automatic entry could be legally and reasonably denied; the right of Community nationals to be treated in a dignified and human manner; and the legal rights of Community nationals in cases of alleged unfair and inappropriate treatment. Ralph Gonsalves, the Prime Minister of St Vincent has also noted that his office regularly receives ‘heart rending stories of Vincentian nationals who have been subjected to unfair, unlawful, unconscionable, and discriminatory treatment by some immigration authorities within member states of CARICOM. These claims are more than borne out by the facts of Myrie v Barbados in which the claimant, a Jamaican national, had not only been refused entry by immigration officials upon her arrival in Barbados, but had also been subjected to insults based upon her nationality and to an unlawful body cavity search in demeaning and unsanitary conditions. Though the claimant also alleged that her fundamental rights and freedoms had been violated and that her treatment had been in violation of the right to non-discrimination on the grounds of nationality, which is guaranteed by Article 7 RTC, the central plank of her case rested upon her right to enter Barbados and to be granted an automatic six month stay pursuant to the 2007 Decision.

The case raised two questions of considerable constitutional importance for the legal orders of the Member States of CARICOM. Firstly, whether Decisions of the Conference of Heads of Government were enforceable by the nationals of Member States? Secondly, what should happen where national laws were incompatible with either the RTC or with the secondary ‘legislation’ emanating from the competent organs of CARICOM (Community law)?

Enforceability of the 2007 Decision?

By Article 240 (1) RTC:

Decisions of competent organs taken under this Treaty shall be subject to the relevant constitutional procedures of the Member States before creating legally binding rights and obligations for nationals of such States.

The Government of Barbados, accordingly, sought to argue that a Decision of the Conference could not give rise to rights and obligations enforceable against Member States by the nationals of Member States unless and until the Decision had been incorporated into the municipal law of the Member State.

In the CCJ’s view, however, this argument was mistaken because it was based on the orthodox dualist approach to international law, which requires the provisions of an international treaty to be incorporated into the domestic law of a State before the treaty can be enforced under the national law of that State. Here, however, the question was not whether the Decision was enforceable at the domestic level, but rather whether it was enforceable at the Community level. In the Court’s view, Article 240 RTC was concerned exclusively with the creation of rights and obligations at the domestic level and their enforceability in domestic law. To accept the submissions of the Government of Barbados on this issue would, in the CCJ’s view, be a retrograde step; it would mean, effectively, that the Member States had not progressed beyond the voluntary system that had been in force prior to the CSME. It would also prejudice the attainment of the aims and objectives of the CSME if binding regional Decisions could be invalidated at the Community level by the failure on the part of a particular State to incorporate those Decisions locally. If domestic incorporation were a condition precedent to the creation of Community rights, an anomalous situation could be created in which some Member States had incorporated the Decision and others had not. In the Courts view: ‘This would be untenable as it would destroy the uniformity, certainty and predictability of Community law.’

The relationship between ‘Community law’ and national law?

As the CCJ acknowledged, the grant of an automatic right of entry and a six month stay granted by Community law was wholly inconsistent with the immigration laws of Barbados. In the Court’s view, however, this inconsistency was of no consequence because:

The original jurisdiction of the Court has been established to ensure observance by the Member States of obligations voluntarily undertaken by them at the Community level. The Court is therefore entitled, if not required, to adjudicate complaints of alleged breaches of Community law even where Community law is inconsistent with domestic law (emphasis added). It is the obligation of each State, having consented to the creation of a Community obligation, to ensure that its domestic law, at least in its application, reflects and supports Community law.

The logic of regional integration between a Community of states necessarily entailed, in the Court’s view, the creation of ‘a new legal order’ which required the Member States to accept certain limits, albeit relatively modest , in particular areas of national sovereignty. Henceforth:

Community law and the limits it imposes on the Member States must take precedence over national legislation, in any event at Community level (emphasis added).

Conclusion

CARICOM has since its inception been afflicted with what the West Indian Commission, in its report Time for Action (Black Rock, Christchurch, Barbados: 1992), called an ‘implementation gap’. This was a reference to the persistent failure of Member States to implement at the national level Decisions taken at the regional level. It might, therefore, be argued that in recognising Decisions of the Conference as a source of Community law that nationals can enforce against the Member States the CCJ has made significant progress in addressing this ‘implementation gap’. A comparison might even be made with the groundbreaking work carried out by the ECJ to combat the ‘Euro-sclerosis’ (Paul Craig and Grainne de Burca, (5th ed) EU Law: Text, Cases and Materials (Oxford University Press: 2011) 144) that afflicted the European Community during the 1970s, by introducing a normative supranationalism through the development of the doctrines of ‘direct effect’ (Van Gend en Loos) and the ‘supremacy’ of Community law (Costa v ENEL).

The comparison, would, however, be misleading, for while the judges of the CCJ may have insisted in the Myrie case upon the ‘supremacy’ of Community law they have on other occasions steadfastly refused to acknowledge its ‘direct effect’. Thus, according to Justice Hayton, speaking extra-curially:

Unlike the position in Europe the direct effect of the [RTC] in conferring rights on Community nationals does not result in Community rights being invoked or enforced in national courts…National courts have no jurisdiction (emphasis added).

As a result the relationship between national courts and the CCJ is entirely different to that which exists between the national courts of Member States and the ECJ. In the case of the latter, following the development of the doctrines of ‘direct effect’ and ‘supremacy’ national courts came to be regarded as the ‘guardians of the Community’; able to hold the governments of their respective Members State to account for violations of Community law and to give effect to the rights granted to the citizens of Member States by and under European Community (now European Union) law.

The legal order envisaged by the CCJ in the Myrie case is, however, of a quite different kind. While Community law may trump national law at the Community level and while the nationals of Member States may be able to hold to account the governments of their own and other Member States for violations of Community law in proceedings before the CCJ, Community law and national law remain two entirely separate systems and national courts have no jurisdiction to interpret or apply the former. What the CCJ appears to have achieved in Myrie v Barbados is thus to establish the supremacy of Community law. What it has not done, however, is to establish a ‘Community of law’ (to paraphrase Martin Loughlin The British Constitution: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press: 2013) 79). As a consequence, though the judgment in Myrie v Barbados is undoubtedly constitutionally significant, it is unlikely to have the same transformative effect upon the political and legal landscapes of CARICOM and its Member States as the groundbreaking judgments of the ECJ in the Van Gend en Loos and Costa v ENEL cases had upon the Member States of the then European Community.

Derek O’Brien is Principal Lecturer, Law School, Oxford Brookes University.

Suggested citation: D. O’Brien, ‘CARICOM: ‘a new legal order’?’ U.K. Const. L. Blog (8th November 2013) (available at http://ukconstitutionallaw.org).

Leave a Comment

Comment by coral gate on November 11, 2013 at 10:55am
A sad story.A word of advise to anyone traveling to any country not only Barbados you never express nasty attitudes towards Immigration officers,police officers or people of authority.You will always suffer the consequences.
Comment by BAJE@HEART on November 11, 2013 at 10:44am
@Mamajo....I couldnt of stated it better. We as a people need to learn that there is a time and place for everything, the way you act determines your end results when dealing with immigration officers in any country to which you are not from or have documentation of residence. As a Bajan I'm sorry to hear about this mans plight and if it is factual then he deserves whatever monetary damages that is due to him in his legal fight.

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