SOURCE: Jamaica Gleaner – In what has been tagged an unduly harsh sentencing, a Jamaican man has been imprisoned for six months in Barbados for breaking quarantine; while influential tourists flouting the COVID-19 protocols, when caught are reportedly given time to pay fines instead of imprisonment.
In fact, The Sunday Gleaner can confirm that at least one Barbadian who scaled the balcony of a quarantine facility in order to dine out at a restaurant across the island was allowed six months to pay his fine; while Jamaican Dean Scott was used as “an example” by a chief magistrate in Barbados last week.
Scott, a 49-year-old mason, left a government quarantine facility to purchase a drink next door, returning shortly after and was arrested for breaching the Disaster Risk Management Act.
Tearful during the court hearing, Scott stated that he genuinely didn’t know he was not allowed to leave the facility.
“Scott was treated unduly harshly. To be 100 per cent clear, he deserved to be punished for breaking quarantine, but there were so many mitigating factors in his case that didn’t warrant his imprisonment. He walked out of a government facility with ease, which speaks to the laxness in protocols,” Jamaica-born attorney-at-law Michelle Russell told The Sunday Gleaner Friday night.
Russell, along with another Jamaican attorney, Keisha Hyde-Porchetta, and the Jamaican Association of Barbados (JAMBAR) are fighting to get an appeal, owing to the fact that Scott returned two negative COVID-19 tests, and has been placed in a prison declared a super spreader in that eastern Caribbean country.
This is the first time Scott has travelled outside of Jamaica and is believed to have gone to Barbados to work on a construction site. It is not clear when he arrived on the island.
According to Russell, Scott was not even given 24 hours to come up with the fine. He told the magistrate he didn’t have the $6,000 and was immediately imprisoned.
“The Barbadian who was fined $6,000 last week for breaking quarantine and who essentially went joyriding for a whole day was given six months within which to pay, while a Swiss tourist staying in the influential west coast area was given seven days to come up with his money,” said Russell.
Of note, the attorney pointed out that the Swiss tourist tested positive and was out in the public. In addition, ‘Love Island’ star Zara Holland and her COVID-19-positive boyfriend, who also breached quarantine and were caught fleeing the country, have not been imprisoned.
Russell is convinced that Scott had no intention of breaking quarantine or absconding. He made a reckless decision to go to the nearby shop. Scott, she said, did not know how to plead and did not have the services of a lawyer to help his case.
Already, Hyde-Porchette said they have secured the services of a lawyer, and are raising funds via www.kwikily.com for Scott to be represented.
Ideally, Hyde-Porchette thinks this was a knee-jerk reaction by the magistrate, while others are of the opinion that Jamaicans and Guyanese are scapegoats, “because apparently they have no humanity and must be made an example of”.
“Send him to do some community service, pay his debt to society and then deport him,” Hyde-Porchette suggested.