What can be done to prevent the abuse of Guyanese at the airport in Barbados?
Stabroek News
March 15, 2002

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Dear Editor,

It was with great horror and nationalistic indignation that I observed in the media Mr. Gaul's account of the humiliating treatment meted out to him by our Caribbean brethren(?) at the Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados. From most of the accounts I have seen it appears that one of Mr. Gaul's unspoken crimes was to be deemed Guyanese by virtue of his accent. Mr. Gaul's corroborated experience as he related it, reminds me of a similar experience about four years ago reported in confidence to me by a young female friend.

On her maiden trip overseas travelling solo to visit a pen-friend in Barbados, this 17-year old young girl was stripped and body-searched by immigration authorities on her arrival at the Grantley Adams International Airport. So embarrassed and humiliated was this young girl by this terrible experience that she has vowed never to return to Barbados, not even as an in-transit passenger! The psychological and emotional trauma and the shame (she still needlessly feels) prevented her from confiding in her own mother, much more raising the issue with the relevant Guyanese authorities.

I commend Mr. Gaul for the courage to stand up and let the authorities and general public know (once more) of the poor treatment of Guyanese by the Barbadian airport officials. I hope that Mr. Gaul's stand will be an example and an encouragement to the possibly scores of persons who have silently and privately suffered similar atrocities at the hands of Barbados airport officials for no other reason than being proud nationals of "the Land of Many Waters".

This latest unfortunate incident brings to my mind a few (open) questions which I feel compelled to ask. What are the rights and obligations of Guyanese nationals travelling abroad? If the rights of a Guyanese travelling abroad are breached by immigration officials of another country, what should he/she do? What has the Guyana government done (or can do) to ensure that the rights of its nationals travelling abroad are respected?

If clear unambiguous answers to these questions are given, the solution to the perennial problem at Grantley Adams International Airport may well be solved.

Yours faithfully,

Max King