PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad CMC – More than a thousand Jamaican nationals were denied entry into Trinidad and Tobago during the period 2010 to 2013, but Port of Spain maintains that immigration authorities have the right to refuse entry to any person who is unable to satisfy the criteria for entering the oil-rich twin island Republic.
Both Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries say they are aware of media reports that 13 Jamaicans were denied entry into Port of Spain on Tuesday night and deported to their homeland the following day after being detained.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs here said it “has been advised by the Chief Immigration Officer and has contacted Her Excellency Sharon Saunders, High Commissioner for Jamaica who has been provided with information regarding the matter”.
Jamaica has since said it is “concerned at this development and continues to interface with the relevant authorities in Trinidad and Tobago on the matter” particularly in light of the Shanique Myrie ruling by the Caribbean Court of Justice”.
The CCJ, earlier this year, ruled that Barbados had breached the right of Myrie when she sought entry into the country in 2011, but stopped short of awarding the one million Barbados dollars in compensation she had sought.
Myrie, 25, had been granted leave by the CCJ to file the action, alleged that when she travelled to Barbados on March 14, 2011 she was discriminated against because of her nationality, subjected to a body cavity search, detained overnight in a cell and deported to Jamaica the following day.
Jamaica said it was urging nationals who believe their rights under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) regime have been breached, to make a report to the nearest Jamaican High Commission or the Ministry.
In a statement, the Ministry of National Security here said that the perception being propagated was that immigration officers acted in an arbitrary and inappropriate manner. It said immigration officers were staff of the National Security Ministry as the first point of contact at the country’s borders, and “must act with integrity, fairness and within the ambit of the Immigration Act.
“Therefore, if based on statistics from the Division’s Investigations and Extensions sections and records of the Immigration Detention Centre, there is a likelihood that a passenger, based on past behaviour, for example, is unable to satisfy the interviewing officer that he or she will comply with regulations under which they were admitted, then the officer must be guided by these facts in making his deliberation.”
The Ministry of National Security said that during the period 2010 to 2013, an estimated 54,362 Jamaican nationals had been admitted to this country with 1,962 Jamaicans being denied entry for various reasons.
It said that this meant 96 percent of Jamaicans seeking entry into Trinidad and Tobago over that four-year period were given admittance.
As a member state of CARICOM, we as a country agreed that while there should be no unreasonable restrictions on the movement of CARICOM nationals within our region, we must be concerned with the protection of public morals and the maintenance of public order and safety,” the Ministry of National Security said.
“It must be established that the passenger either has sufficiency of funds, has a private person with whom they will stay or proof that they have an established place of residence for their period of stay,” it said, adding that the government was committed to honouring the treaty establishing the Caribbean Community and Common Market signed at Chaguaramas on July 4, 1973.
Port of Spain said it was also committed to the Declaration of Grand Anse and other decisions of the regional leaders in particular the commitment to deepening regional economic integration through the establishment of the CSME.
“In this regard, the Trinidad and Tobago Government upholds the view that nationals of the CARICOM region should be afforded the freedom to commute between countries throughout the region whenever it is believed to be appropriate,” the statement added.