BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, September 8 , 2016 (CMC) — The Prime Ministers of Barbados and Jamaica discussed the state of bilateral relations between both countries, on Wednesday, against the background of two recent incidents related to Jamaican travelers to Barbados.
The meeting held via telephone, came a day after Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart received the Letter of Introduction of the new non-resident High Commissioner of Jamaica to Barbados, David Prendergast.
Stuart told his counterpart, Andrew Holness, that his call was intended to cement the need for the two countries to work more closely at the bilateral level, over a range of issues, noting their close historical ties as founding members of CARICOM.
In a statement issued following the meeting, it was noted that the leaders agreed that there was a need to strengthen the bilateral relationship, particularly in light of the recent incidents involving two Jamaican nationals.
Stuart expressed his deep concern at the two reported incidents and agreed that the reported incidents were unfortunate and that on becoming aware of the matters, he had immediately sought a full briefing on each of them.
“The Barbados Prime Minister drew to the attention of his counterpart the fact that statistics regarding Jamaicans travelling to Barbados had shown that thousands of Jamaicans entered Barbados without any issues and that fewer than one per cent encountered problems,” pointed out a Barbados government statement.
However, he did not condone any unwarranted challenge to Jamaicans, in his capacity as both Minister responsible for Immigration in Barbados and the lead spokesman in CARICOM for the CSME.
Stuart assured Holness that the matters would be fully investigated, and that if any impropriety on the part of Barbadian officials was found, the requisite sanctions would be applied.
Holness made mention of the Shanique Myrie case, and in response Stuart noted that given its precedent-setting nature, it was natural that the Myrie case would be evoked, but that it was one unfortunate incident when compared with the thousands of Jamaicans who come to Barbados and enter uneventfully.
Stuart said he hopes to have a chance to address the Jamaican public on the issues.
He also noted that challenges would occur from time to time in the Freedom of Movement initiative and stressed that it was early days yet in the execution of the guidelines in the CCJ (Caribbean Court of Justice) Decision.
According to Stuart, the Revised Treaty “had set out the ideal but the Court had sought to put flesh on the dry bones of that ideal.”
He said wherever challenges arose the government of Barbados would, as should be the case with other CARICOM governments, try to make sure that mistakes were corrected and not repeated.
In response to the intimation of Holness that the recent matters could end up before the CCJ, Stuart indicated that that was the right of the individuals, which no one could deny.
Stuart assured Holness that the government of Barbados would give the fullest cooperation in ensuring that propriety obtains in the matters. He stressed that it was important that the recent issues be managed carefully and not be allowed to undermine the good relations between the two countries.