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Jamaican high-schooler's nightmare experience with Barbados Customs

Published:Sunday | May 6, 2012 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I am a high-school student who took my first trip to Barbados three weeks ago. My high expectations going into this country were crashed when the immigration officials unleashed on me what I term an assault - verbally and psychologically.

After checking in at Barbados, the official to whom my passport and supporting documents were given told me to go into a waiting room until particulars for my return ticket could be verified, where some four other Jamaicans were sent afterwards. My wait, however, was to be longer than theirs. After a lengthy wait exceeding two hours, a man came and questioned me about my purpose of visit, to which I answered accordingly.

The officer who took my documents came back some time later and told me that my credentials had been cleared and a detective would like to speak to me.I spoke to a security officer whose name I unfortunately forgot. He asked me my name, my purpose of travel, who sponsored my trip, how long I intended to stay and where I was staying, to which I answered fully.

He then paused, and then said I should cut the story and tell him the truth so he could see what he could do for me or else I would be taken to QED. I then told him that what was said is the truth and that it was fine by me if he did an X-ray because I knew I was clean.

Privacy invaded

He went on asking who took me to the airport and who I spoke to. I answered accordingly. This conundrum continued when he asked and was given a description of the person picking me up. He proceeded to ask me if this person was gay (which I deemed irrelevant and inappropriate) and to tell me that the person fit the description of someone who was to meet a man whom he had interrogated.

He searched my bag and proceeded to search through my cellphone messages and contacts after asking for it (invasion of privacy).

Upon leaving that room and joining a line of 10 people to go through Customs, I was pulled out of that group of 10 and again invaded by another search. I questioned them as to whether this invasion was because I was a Jamaican, to which he responded, laughing, "I search anyone I feel like searching."

Mr Editor, I felt invaded and abused, reminded very much about the Shanique Myrie case. I am, therefore, requesting that the Government take strict action to ensure that Jamaicans are not treated inhumanely when they enter Barbados.

If something cannot be done, I strongly suggest that we secede from CARICOM, because there would be no real reason for us to be part of that organisation if harassment in other CARICOM countries cannot be eliminated. I believe this stereotyping is meted out to Jamaicans only.

PATRICK RICHARDS,

Concerned CARICOM national