St Michael North East MP delivers opinion on Shanique Myrie/Barbados Immigration deadlock
I feel compelled to speak on the matter of the allegations made by Ms. Shanique Myrie.
This matter needs urgently to be taken out of the public realm.
None of our people in Barbados and Jamaica can benefit from the inflaming of national passions on both sides – nor indeed can our economies. The Prime Minister of Barbados needs to take control of the issue and put a fair, transparent and independent investigative process in place that is acceptable to all parties and agreed upon by both Governments. In this way, all parties will be bound to the outcome of the process. The failure to put this kind of process in place has already led to the threat of an action before an International Human Rights Body. This will only serve to tarnish Barbados’ reputation even if, after years of hearings, the allegations are not proven.
Further, all of the Government officials in both countries need to pause and stop talking. They are not the Chief Information Officers nor are they the Public Defenders. The Minister of Foreign Affairs’ comments regrettably are now as much at the centre of the controversy, as is the original allegations by Ms. Myrie. The former Prime Minister David Thompson advocated that there should be no shouting matches across the Caribbean Sea by Caribbean Leaders. It seems as though that approach to diplomacy on which the Governments of Barbados, up until now, have properly relied has now died with him.
We have had challenges in the past with allegations of improper treatment by our officials but what is absent in this situation now is the public confidence in our leadership of this matter. Under Adams, Barrow and Arthur we felt that a solution would not be far away and that they would have all intervened to stop the rhetoric. Prime Minister Stuart cannot postpone decisive and independent action on this matter any longer as both our national interests and the welfare of our people are at stake. He must abandon the philosophy of not making errors by postponing decision-making.
Finally, as Barbadians we can no longer bury our heads in the sand to the perception that others have of us that Barbados does not treat its Caribbean brothers and sisters and people of African descent fairly and with respect. I do not have all of the facts. But if this is the perception of us, we need to deal with it -if not our social and economic well being as a people will be affected as we warned when Government’s recent Immigration Policy was introduced two years ago.
If we are being wrongly accused in the region, then we must correct that perception.
If there is truth to the perception, then we must deal with the problems that are at the core of the allegations.
Let us recognise that tourism is still our business – and above all, our reputation of being fair as Barbadians and being strong supporters of Caribbean unity is the cornerstone on which our nation has been built.