What happened to Buju Banton this weekend in Trinidad is nothing new when it comes to the treatment of Jamaican entertainers in other Caribbean islands. While Banton’s hotel room was raided by the Trinidadian police based on what government officials are calling “faulty intelligence”, Jamaican entertainers have had to endure worse.
Buju Banton’s treatment by the Trinidadian police was disrespectful and embarrassing but at least the artiste was still able to do the work he was in Trinidad to do. There have been numerous cases where Jamaican entertainers were actually denied entry or booted from countries and denied the opportunity to make a living performing in said country. One of the most famous of these incidents was Tommy Lee Sparta getting the boot from Dominica in 2014.
Tommy Lee Sparta was denied entry by Dominican officials in February 2014 after arriving in the island to perform at multiple shows. The deejay then responded with a US$3 million lawsuit, arguing that his rights were infringed based on the Treaty of Chaguaramas, which governs CARICOM member states. The treaty says that member states should commit themselves to the goal of free movement of their nationals within the community.
Tommy Lee’s lawsuit against Dominica was successful as both parties came to a settlement although the final terms of the settlement were never disclosed. One thing is almost certain, with Lee hitting the Dominica government in in the pocket, the country will be sure to think twice before they discriminate against another Jamaican entertainer. Buju Banton should do exactly what Tommy Lee did.
As soon as Buju Banton and his team are rested from the performance in Trinidad, they should be on the phone with Bert Samuels who is the attorney who represented Tommy Lee with his lawsuit.
Even though the Trinidadian government has apologized to Buju Banton, the Rasta should still bring a lawsuit against the government. An example need to be made of this incident and let Trinidad police understand that violation of someone’s rights is not acceptable. It does not matter if that someone is a Rasta, from Jamaica, known to use marijuana, was recently released from prison on drug charges and the day you chose to violate his rights was 4/20 which is marijuana enthusiasts favorite day. None of that matter, you cannot infringe on someone’s liberty unless you have legitimate probable cause.
Buju Banton should sue not just for himself but for every other reggae artiste who will perform in Trinidad in the future. Yes the Trinidadian government has apologized and they have gone into full damage control but that’s just not enough. The Trinidadian government needs to be hit where it hurts, in the pocketbook.