Barbados gov’t dismisses threat by opposition party

Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite

Opposition party not keen on new immigration policies

The Barbados government has brushed aside a threat by the main opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) that it would take it to court over plans for new immigration policies that would have nationals fingerprinted when leaving and entering the island.

Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite told reporters that the Freundel Stuart government would not be deterred by the threats of legal action.

“Government policy is not shaped by whether or not the opposition, David Comissiong or anyone (who) wants to take us to court. We have to decide what’s best for government,” he added.

Last week, the government announced that it would defer the April 1 implementation date for the Immigration (Biometrics) Regulations indicating that the Immigration Department needed time to review legal and other issues raised by objectors, and raise public awareness.

Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, speaking in Parliament last week had raised the possibility of the party taking the matter to the courts and on Sunday, addressing a party rally,  the Member of Parliament for St James North, Edmund Hinkson, said that deferment of the regulations was not enough.

“They say they going to consult you, but we ain’t minding that. We still going to court to get the regulations declared unconstitutional, because you can’t prevent Barbadians from leaving Barbados or from coming back into Barbados when they have a right under the Constitution to do so.

 “You imagine that you will get fingerprint when you have a right under the constitution to enter Barbados, as a Barbadian, the country of your birth where your navel-string bury,” Hinkson said, adding that the withdrawal should be seen as a “partial victory”.

He said while fingerprinting records are taken of people visiting other countries, that request is not made of persons entering or leaving their homeland, including Americans, “and they are under the greatest security threat in the world”.

Earlier this month, attorney and social activist David Comissiong wrote to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart calling on him to outline the reasons for introducing the new immigration policies.

In his letter, which was made available to the media, Comissiong said “there was absolutely no publicity about or discussion of these Regulations before or at the time they were being made”.

Last month, former attorney general Dale Marshall questioned the wisdom in having Barbadian nationals leaving or returning to the country be subjected to being finger printed.

 

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