Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves may receive an apology from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Barbados over his treatment by airport security there on April 14, Barbados Today has reported.
Additional security officers were after Gonsalves refused to comply with orders from a female G4S officer to return for further screening at Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA).
He was in transit at the airport en route to St. Vincent from Guyana.
The Prime Minister’s bag is said to have triggered an alarm in the screening mechanism during the initial security check.
Prime ministers and other diplomats are generally exempted from such security checks.
But the incident also suggests other breaches of protocol at the airport, which recently became a hub for regional carrier LIAT, on which Gonsalves was travelling.
Barbados Toady has reported that not only was Gonsalves — the region’s longest-serving prime minister — not recognised by security, but he was also not met by a protocol officer after his flight arrived later than scheduled from Guyana.
Gonsalves is said to have refused to comply with the female security officer’s instructions, and she then summoned back-up security.
The incident occurred at Gate 9 at GAIA, from which most LIAT flights out of Bridgetown depart.
“The PM refused to take his shoes off after [he] went through the x-ray machine. That caused chaos. It attracted all the heads of security,” a witness told I-Witness News of the incident.
Despite the female security officer’s insistence, the prime minister refused to do as he was told and she then called for back-up security support “in her quest to ensure that the ‘unrecognised’ passenger underwent more rigorous security checks,” Barbados Today has reported.
Senior airport officials are said to have issued an unequivocal apology to Gonsalves before he left Barbados.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bridgetown has called for a detailed report on the incident.
The incident comes amidst numerous complaints by Vincentians and other CARICOM nationals about the manner in which they are treated at the GAIA when visiting or transiting in Barbados.
The incident also comes even as the Government of Barbados last year paid Jamaican Shanique Myrie US$38,000 in damages awarded to her by the Caribbean Court of Justice.
Myrie had filed a lawsuit claiming she was subjected to a dehumanising cavity search by a female immigration officer at GAIA, locked in a filthy room overnight and deported to Jamaica in March 2011.