Although the court made a removal order last week regarding British citizen, Juanita Headley, she is yet to depart these shores seemingly, due to outbursts at the airport.
A photograph showing Juanita Headley sitting on the floor of the departure area at the Argyle International Airport (AIA) on Tuesday, was obtained by SEARCHLIGHT this week.
A source who was present at the airport, told SEARCHLIGHT that there appeared to be some reluctance by Headley to follow the instructions given by the airline agent regarding her luggage.
Chief Immigration Officer(CIO) Beverly Walker when approached by SEARCHLIGHT explained Headley’s current status and what transpired at the airport.
Following the Order of Removal, the Department, acting accordingly, ensured that Headley was taken to the airport on Tuesday 22nd June, 2021, in order to be repatriated.
Walker said while Headley was being processed by the airline agent, “there was some non-compliance with the instructions given to her by the agent.”
She said this was followed by loud outbursts from Headley who ended up sitting on the floor next to her luggage. Thus, the processing of Headley for departure was stalled, and she was unable to travel as the airline processing system eventually had to close off.
Walker said that Headley has stated on several occasions that she is not going to leave this country; however, the department will continue to perform its job within the ambit of the law.
The British citizen’s lawyers, Maia Eustace and Jomo Thomas, could not be reached for comment.
Last Thursday, June 17, Headley was taken by Immigration Officers to the Serious Offences Court (SOC) where Crown Counsel at the Attorney General’s chambers, Kezron Walters, explained to the magistrate: “Before you is an application by the Senior Immigration Officer, Veronica Harry for a removal order pursuant to section 22 of the Immigration (Restriction) Act.”
“The affidavit of Veronica Harry accompanies the application, and she states in the affidavit that [Headley] is a prohibited immigrant within the meaning of section 4(1)(A) of the Act. So Miss Headley is before the court for the purposes of the removal order,” Walters stated.
After this information was relayed to Headley, the detainee responded that she has legal representation, naming Thomas and Eustace.
“They (presumably the immigration officials) wouldn’t even allow me to take a shower or go to the toilet, treat me like a criminal…”, without giving her a fair trial, she claimed.
“This is a warrant for your arrest, you were denied permission to remain in the state,” Browne told her.
“On the basis of rumours that I am a human trafficker, which is not true…” retorted the British citizen who entered the country in August, 2020, and has produced works as an author and anti-trafficking advocate. In the time she has been here, Headley has been documented to have participated in several speaking engagements relating to abuse and human trafficking, on mainland, St Vincent, and in the Grenadines.
Last Thursday the magistrate told her: “I would not know the basis, but there is a denial here, and based on that denial, you have no permission to be in the state.”
Headley said that she had applied for residency.
“It was not granted,” Browne told her.
“They didn’t even provide me with a reason for denial,” Headley returned.
“…What I have before me is the necessary documentation which have been attached, denying your permission to be in the state in any way at all from the Office of the Prime Minister,” the magistrate informed her.
It was pointed out to Headley that she had a copy of the application and all the necessary exhibits with her.
Headley insisted that she had committed no crime.
Browne told her “…The documentation that I am seeing here shows that you have already interfaced with the necessary state agencies, and you have been denied permission to remain in St Vincent and the Grenadines.”
Headley, who is registered to practice law in the United States, questioned why they had denied her permission.
The judicial officer replied that she did not know, “but based on that, you have been deemed a prohibited immigrant and this information was handed to you already earlier,much earlier. You were aware of this document.”
Headley replied that she did not know of the document, and that it was the first time that she heard she was a prohibited immigrant.
“I was told nine months is too long for a holiday, that doesn’t sound like a legal reason for me not to be given an extension when I’ve been doing human trafficking prevention work in your country for nine months,” Headley said, adding that she had been contributing positively.
The back and forth went on for a while longer before she was asked to step down.
When asked to step down, Headley did not stifle her displeasure, and continued to voice her position while seated in the area for detainees.
“Lord have mercy… It’s unreasonable. I’m gonna fight this in England. I’m a British citizen, I have rights. I have a lawyer, why isn’t my lawyer here? This is not over. I’m gonna go to every media house in the world, I tell you this is not over. I am a British citizen with legal rights, and it’s all lies,” she stated.
An officer of the court, calling for order, asked for her to be escorted from the courtroom, and Headley was taken to sit outside.
But before the door closed behind her, she persisted with her protest.
“I don’t care, I have legal rights, my lawyer is not here, I am an attorney, I know my rights, simple,” she said, telling someone who momentarily held on to her, “Do not grab me, do not touch me, that’s assault and battery.”
Headley’s relationship with the Passports and Immigration Department since her arrival in the country, was outlined in Searchlight’s edition of June 11, 2021.
As a British citizen she was granted six months on entry, following which Headley applied for, and received at least three extensions of her stay until her last application in May 2021 was denied.
Headley is also said to have attempted to obtain ‘missionary status’ here during that time, but was unsuccessful for reasons that do not appear to have anything to do with the Immigration Department.
Headley’s position was that she had been given until May 25 to leave the country following the denial of her extension of stay. After this it appeared that she submitted an application for residency. She was given two days as an extension to the time when she could stay, until May 27. In a letter from the Chief Immigration Officer to Headley’s then lawyer, the lawyer was informed that she could act on behalf of Headley and submit an application for temporary residence when all the documents needed were obtained.
However, they said that Headley would still have to leave on May 27, and if the application was granted, she may return.