Dominica faces lawsuit for refusing entry to Jamaican dancehall artist
More than two years after controversial Jamaican dancehall artiste Tommy Lee Sparta was blocked from entering Dominica to perform at a concert, the government of the Eastern Caribbean nation is facing a potential lawsuit.
Attorney-at-law Cabral Douglas, who had organized the concert at which the artiste, real name Leroy Russell , was supposed to perform, has alleged that the performer was illegally arrested, detained and deported.
And he says he will be seeking special leave to appear before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) “to enforce my rights and the rights of CARICOM nationals under relevant provisions of the Revised Treat of Chaguaramas (RTC), as I remain committed to the principles of regional integration, human rights and free enterprise which are the foundations of economic development in Dominica and the Caribbean region, as intended by the framers of the RTC.”
Tommy Lee was stopped at the Melville Hall Airport on the afternoon of February 23 after he arrived for the concert which was to be held in Portsmouth that night. He was subsequently taken into police custody before being put on a flight back home the following day.
Ahead of his arrival in the island, the Dominica Association of Evangelical Churches had protested his planned performance and called for a boycott, charging that the artist, who also uses the stage name “Uncle Demon”, glorified Satan during his performances.
The Ministry of National Security said it took the decision not to allow Tommy Lee entry because of concerns for public safety. “The decision to deny entry was intended as a pre-emptive action and also to provide an opportunity to exhaust all efforts to clarify information received,” it said in a statement at the time.
However, Douglas, the son of late Dominican Prime Minister Rosie Douglas, accused the government of “small-mindedness”.
“If anyone can be accused to practising evil, it’s certainly not Tommy Lee, but rather the leadership of Dominica as evidenced by the barbaric, vindictive and inhumane treatment of innocent skilled CARICOM nationals contracted to work in Dominica,” he said in a statement.
“How can Dominica hypocritically advocate for free movement it its capacity as chair of CARICOM on the one hand, whilst arbitrarily detaining, deporting and humiliating skilled CARICOM nationals contracted to work in Dominica on the other? This is an affront to the spirit of regional Integration.”
Douglas argued that Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit’s refusal to honour its obligations under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, as it pertains to the free movement of skilled community nationals, poses a grave danger to the economic interests Dominican individuals and corporate entities seeking to contract with skilled CARICOM nationals and also undermines the credibility of CARICOM itself, and Dominica’s position as chair responsible for the implementation of free movement within CARICOM’s quasi-Cabinet.
He further accused the government of reneging on a commitment to settle the matter out of court.
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