The Immigration Department has deferred plans to introduce fingerprinting at Barbados’ ports of entry, saying it needs to re-examine the controversial decision.
But the Opposition Barbados Labor Party said that will not stop its planned court action to challenge the constitutionality of the measure.
Following public concern and threats of legal action over the decision to require arriving air and sea passengers to be fingerprinted from April 1 in order to enter the country, Acting Chief Immigration Officer Wayne Marshall said implementation has been deferred “to allow the department more time to re-examine some of the issues, especially the legal issues, raised in the public arena, both orally and in writing, and to increase public awareness about the initiative.”
He said in a statement issued by the government that all legal procedures previously undertaken in adopting the Immigration (Biometric) Regulations, 2015, will be revisited, and any irregularities found corrected. That review is taking place in collaboration with the Solicitor General’s Chambers and the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel.
However, BLP Member of Parliament for St. James North, Edmund Hinkson, told a party rally last night that the postponement of the measure’s implementation was only a “partial victory” and the party would be seeking to have the courts declare the regulations unconstitutional.
He reiterated the opposition’s position that “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.”
But the acting immigration chief has insisted that the benefits of fingerprinting include: enhancing the level of national security; identifying individuals traveling with fraudulent identification documents; strengthening border control; reducing crime; improving investigation of crime; and preserving the high international ranking of the Barbados passport.
Marshall revealed that fingerprint readers have already been installed at 20 desks in the Arrivals Hall at the Grantley Adams International Airport and special arrangements are also being put in place to ensure easy accessibility to the readers by wheelchair-bound passengers.
Additionally, he said, kiosks are being installed to permit Barbadians and other select categories of persons to benefit from easier, smoother and faster passage through Immigration at the airport.