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TT, J’ca agree to ‘hassle-free travel’

By Andre Bagoo Thursday, December 5 2013

TRINIDAD and Tobago and Jamaica have agreed to facilitate “hassle-free travel” in relation to the movement of Jamaicans into this country, according to the final minutes of a two-day bilateral meeting attended by Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran in Jamaica, released yesterday.

According to the agreed minutes, persons are to be denied entry only in limited circumstances and are to be given accommodation if so denied, as well as a right to appeal. Dookeran said his visit had “restored” relations between both countries after the fallout over the recent deportation of a dozen Jamaicans threatened to “escalate” damage to TT-Jamaica ties.

“I think we have a lot to be placed on the agenda but I believe the relationship between Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica has been restored and this particular issue was not allowed to escalate,” Dookeran said.

The Minister held a media briefing at the offices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to outline some of the main points of agreement arrived at after his visit to Jamaica which saw him meet with Jamaican prime minister Portia Simpson-Miller; Opposition Leader Andrew Holness; Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Arnold Nicholson, diplomats, lawyers and members of the Jamaican trade community.

Dookeran said existing administrative measures will have to be revised in order to implement Caricom law calling for hassle-free movement. At the same time he insisted that the recent deportation of a dozen Jamaicans was within “the legal framework”.

The new measures agreed to involve implementation of the recent Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruling in the Shanique Myrie Case which stipulates that Caricom nationals are entitled to a six-month entry stamp. The agreed minutes state: “the CCJ ruling is still a recent development and there was the need for it to be translated into practical steps leading to its implementation.”

Measures to be introduced include an appeals process, possibly involving a “judicial review”, as well as a complaints procedure and access to consular representation. Deportees are also to be housed at “appropriate facilities”, a matter for which airlines are deemed responsible. Certain Caricom-level skills certificates are also to be recognised.

The State officials and diplomats also agreed that immigration heads within each jurisdiction are to address the problem of “profiling” and there is to be “a mechanism for the sharing of information between immigration authorities...to transmit data rapidly on nationals of each country who are refused entry.”

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