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CARICOM divided: The myth of Caribbean free movement

The furore over Trinidad and Tobago’s deportation of Jamaican nationals points to an ongoing issue rather than a new one.

It originates out of a clear misunderstanding of who qualifies for consideration under Articles 45 and 46 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas 2001 for “Free Movement of People.” Both Governments need to exercise some quick, friendly diplomacy before it escalates into something more.

Photo: Jamaican travellers who were turned back by Trinidad and Tobago immigration officers. (Courtesy YourCommonwealth.org)
Photo: Jamaican travellers who were turned back by Trinidad and Tobago immigration officers.
(Courtesy YourCommonwealth.org)

The last thing the region needs at this time is to have these two States waste precious time fighting over something which ought not to be an issue.

Clearly there is a misunderstanding in the interpretation of about what “free movement of people” really means, not only in this case but in the region, and how a country can be in breach of the provisions given under these Articles.

Firstly, it is important to recall that this Treaty established the Caribbean Community and its preamble signifies the intent of CARICOM member countries to work together for the purpose of deepening regional economic integration through the establishment of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy or CSME.

The words of Dr Leroy Calliste, better known by his calypso sobriquet, “The Black Stalin”, comes to mind in his memorable hit, “Caribbean Unity”:

Mr West Indian politician, I mean yuh went to big institution, and how come you cyah unite seven million; when ah West Indian unity, I know is very easy, if you only rap to yuh people and tell dem like me. 

“Dem is… one race (de Caribbean man); from de same place (de Caribbean man); dat make de same trip (de Caribbean man); on de same ship (de Caribbean man). So we must push one common intention, Is for a better life in de region…”

Photo: Five-time Calypso Monarch, the Black Stalin. (Courtesy NCCTT.org)
Photo: Five-time Calypso Monarch, the Black Stalin.
(Courtesy NCCTT.org)

Decades ago, when this song was first penned, it was quite obvious that the Black Stalin better understood the value of regional integration than the politicians of that era.

Today’s politicians do not appear very different from those of the past.

On paper, regional integration is discussed and ratified at the highest levels of governance when Treaties and Agreements are signed. Yet we continue to come up short in the operationalisation of the relevant institutions whose job it is to make this integration a reality.

Articles 45 states “member states committing themselves to the goal of free movement of their nationals.” And article 46, in conjunction with 32, 33, 37, 38 and 40, says “states have agreed to undertake the first step towards achieving the goal set out in Article 45 by outlining the categories of persons who are allowed to seek employment in their jurisdictions such as university graduates, media workers, sportspersons, artistes; and musicians.”

In 2013, Trinidad and Tobago was accused of breaching the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and disrespecting the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) after 13 Jamaicans were deported from the Piarco International Airport.

Photo: A Caribbean Airlines plane prepares to land. (Copyright Lyndon Thorley/Planespotters.net)
Photo: A Caribbean Airlines plane prepares to land.
(Copyright Lyndon Thorley/Planespotters.net)

In a landmark case involving Shanique Myrie of Jamaica against the Barbadian Government, Myrie, who was denied entry into that country, claimed an entitlement to a right to free movement within the Caribbean Community according to the CCJ’s ruling.

And, specifically, a right of entry without any form of harassment, based on the combined effect of Article 45 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (the “RTC” or “Treaty”) and a Decision of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community taken at their Twenty-Eighth Meeting (“the 2007 Conference Decision”).

She further claimed that Barbados breached her rights under Articles 7 and 8 of the RTC to non-discrimination on the ground of nationality only and to treatment that is no less favourable than that accorded to nationals of other CARICOM States or Third States.

The CCJ ruled that where a CARICOM national is refused entry into a member state, that national should be allowed to consult an attorney, a consular official, or to contact a family member.

The CCJ also ruled that member states should give, promptly and in writing, reasons for refusing entry to CARICOM nationals. The receiving state is also obliged to inform the refused national of his or her right to challenge the decision.

Photo: National Security Minister Brigadier Edmund Dillon (centre) speaks to a female detainee at the Immigration Detention Centre.
Photo: National Security Minister Brigadier Edmund Dillon (centre) speaks to a female detainee at the Immigration Detention Centre.

In this regard, the Court indicated that it expects Barbados to interpret and apply its domestic laws liberally so as to harmonise them with Community law. Or, if this is not possible, to alter them.

In other words, the ruling of the CCJ suggests that the failure of Barbados to make or ratify this law in their domestic courts does not excuse them.  An absence in domestic law, does not excuse the Barbados government and its immigration officers from honouring the regional commitment it made by signing the Treaty, which included Article 45.

The Myrie ruling means the issue of regional free movement cannot be pushed but must be addressed both at the domestic and regional level.

In a recent Trinidad Guardian article, current Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dennis Moses said he felt local immigration officials acted appropriately, as—based on a report submitted by the immigration department—the visiting Jamaicans failed to show their ability to sustain themselves in T&T.

Again, it is unclear whether immigration officials informed them why they were denied entry and allowed the Jamaicans to use the three options outlined in the Treaty. Anything less would have been a breach of their legal rights.

Photo: Immigration officers at their graduation ceremony with acting Deputy Chief Immigration Officer Veronica Ann King (far left), acting Deputy PS Destra Bascomber (second from left) and PS Jennifer Boucaud-Blake (far right) on 9 October 2009. (Copyright Immigration.Gov.TT)
Photo: Immigration officers at their graduation ceremony with acting Deputy Chief Immigration Officer Veronica Ann King (far left), acting Deputy PS Destra Bascomber (second from left) and PS Jennifer Boucaud-Blake (far right) on 9 October 2009.
(Copyright Immigration.Gov.TT)

Is the problem that immigration officials remain ignorant of their obligations under the Treaty?

Situations like these, which happen throughout the region, do not auger well for Caribbean people.

Regional integration remains an elusive goal. And it is time we got serious about getting there.

As the Black Stalin sang: “So we must push one common intention; Is for a better life in de region…”

About Julie Guyadeen

Julie Guyadeen
Julie Guyadeen has a BSc. in Government with a Minor in International Relations and Postgraduate training in International Relations both at the UWI St. Augustine Campus. She is a firm believer in civil society having an active voice.

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133 comments

  1. And enshrined with no caveats, eh.

  2. Hhmm…reading this thread again Im seeing the same arguments the Brexits used. Interesting to compare.

  3. So what do you think of this Lasana?
    “The Treaty of Chaguaramas did not mean that every person could simply turn up at a country’s border and not know who they were going to and not have the means to sustain themselves.”

    • I think I don’t want to hear his opinion. I want to be pointed to legislation to support what he is saying.
      Of course I appreciate that what he says is reasonable. But only the legality of the thing matters now to me.

  4. Just remember the Federation.It never got off the ground. Why?

  5. Many of these unqualified and skill deficient people interpret the concept of free movement within the Caribbean similar to free movement within their own country, village to village. It’s either through ignorance or lack of relevant information that they turn up at Piarco without any means of sustenance or accommodationfor their alleged ‘vacation’. I have come across many Jamaicans and people of different nationalities working in Trinidad, doing unskilled labour. These illegals are ‘hiding’ in plain sight.

  6. Good article but the problem is NOT about Immigration; it is about manufacturing.

    Who has been calling for the boycott of T&T’s goods? The head to Jamaica’s manufacturers assoication is the one who has constantly called for a boycott of products from T&T whenever Jamaicans are denied entry.

    If T&T’s products are boycotted, then persons may purchase more products offered by the JMA which will give them more profit. The politicians in Jamaica support this lobby group as they have significant influence on policy formulation and campaign financing. This lobby group also invest and hire persons which make the politicians look good in terms of business growth in lower unemployment rates.

    The Jamaican manufacturers ‘ride on the backs’ of the shady Jamaicans who are denied entry for legitimate reasons for their (JMA) own profit.

    Again, this has nothing to do with immigration.

  7. Ah my bro they do a real number on we.All crabs in a barrel,fighting for the yankee dollar.

  8. Trinidad’s treatment of Jamaicans, other Caribbean nationals and of Africans immigrants in particular is a shameful disgrace and dishonor which should be firmly denounced by all Trinbagoinans worth their salt. Just disgusting.

  9. “Because it is not consistent with the CCJ ruling and the regional treaty our government entered in to.”

    Were those enforcing immigration aware of the regional treaty and what it required of them to do?

    • The problem is not the treaty but the requirements that must be met when a Caricom national is refused entry. Our immigration officers should have been brought up to speed on these latest requirements coming out of the CCJ ruling and the necessary protocols put in place to avoid these incidents.

    • And if they were not brought up to speed, it is not the fault of Caricom, the CCJ or the traveller. It will the fault of the government, which consists of the people we elected.

    • This is one of those land mark cases where the CCJ has shown their capabilities in developing the common law in the Caribbean. There are others. We cannot want to follow the law only when it suits us.

    • Ignorance of the law won’t save us though. But that is definitely a question that the relevant authorities should answer.
      And hopefully they won’t wait for a couple hefty lawsuits to do so.

    • But what if the immigration officers say they were never informed of this policy by the T&T Government. How can you enforce a policy that you do not know anything about?

    • A civilian breaking the law in ignorance is one thing. A public official not enforcing a law based on a policy they were never told about, is another.

    • The T&T Gov’t is the one that will take the fall. Immigration is part of the Gov’t.
      CARICOM won’t give us a bligh because we were incompetent. And they shouldn’t.
      If the situation were reversed, we would expect protection from the law and not to be at the mercy of an uninformed official.
      If an Apple delivery man gets an order wrong, it is the company that suffers. Even if somebody in the chain of command made a mistake.

  10. I think using excerpts from our immigration division doesn’t draw a line under the issue but only shows why there is one in the first place.
    Because it is not consistent with the CCJ ruling and the regional treaty our government entered in to.

  11. The history T&T is centred around migration. Very few of us are desendants of Carib and Arawaks. Most of our ancestors came through the need for labour either through slavery and indentureship or the cedula of population.

  12. People who have overstayed their time in Trinidad and Tobago and have not yet departed:

    • Bangladeshis: 167

    • Barbadians: 7,169

    • Chinese: 4,593

    • Colombians: 6,388

    • Dominican Republic: 2,256

    • Cubans: 1,434

    • Grenadians: 6,947

    • Guyanese: 25,884

    • Indians: 3,651

    • Nigerians: 1,071

    • Filipinos: 4,437

    • St Lucians: 4,391

    • St Vincent: 9,606

    • Suriname: 1,944

    • Venezuelans: 10,574

    Source: National Security Ministry

  13. Mel Lissa what does it say for persons vacationing? The issue is not those who are coming to work. Those who are doing so must follow the process. Those who are coming here other than to work as stated in the treaty is our problem. It extends beyond Caricom nationals. Caricom nationals are treated worst than the those from the Middle East, Asia and South America who are also not coming to work here.

    • I didn’t look at what it says for people vacationing

    • I’ve gone on vacation in other Caribbean islands. You have to give the Immigration Officer information on where you are staying and the address of where you are staying and when you will be departing. Customs may or may not check your bags.

      Again, if anything does not add up, you can be denied entry. Coming for vacation also does not mean just waltzing in without any questions being asked or verifications being made.

    • Jamaicans have up to 6 months as visitors in Trinidad…

    • that was my reason for writing this article….I found citizens from other countries were free to roam, come and set up gyro shops, indian expos etc etc…and T&T have an obligation to honor this treaty it signed unto!..Myrie’s land mark ruling speaks volumes

  14. Some are. We also have illegals from African countries. A list was published of which countries the most illegal immigrants come from. I need to go find it. But yes, Chinese were on it. Venezuelans, Jamaicans, Guyanese etc.

  15. The system has always been against our black people eh, but at least they allows a few easy access just to make it look like it ain’t so. Them really good yes.

  16. Are the Chinese coming in illegally? Or the Syrians?

  17. But wait, why would ANYONE be surprised that there would be varying levels of immigration vigilance of certain CARICOM countries? If you are a more prosperous economy, you expect economic migrants will be coming there. So you screen more carefully for them. If you’ve had a pattern of illegal migrants coming there, and you know from where they usually come, your scrutiny will be harder of those nationals. What I take issue with is uneven enforcement of this regarding Chinese and other illegals. There is a double standard in enforcement. It does not mean the enforcement and what necessitates it, is inherently a bad thing.

  18. When they entering Trinidad especially and Barbados.

  19. And I qualified under CSME as a Media Worker. I already had a job contract signed and my employer waiting to pick me up at the airport. NO ISSUES whatsoever. My dreadlocks, tattoos, piercings and all.

  20. All that does not negate the fact that even a top Guyanese journalist with his documents faces unnecessary hassle. There exists a sterotypical negative view of Jamaicans, Guyanese, Africans from the continent that is not the same for Chinese and Syrians in particular.

  21. According to our Immigration Website:
    The CARICOM states that participate in the regime for the Free Movement of People are:
    Antigua and Barbuda
    Barbados
    Belize
    Dominica
    Grenada
    Guyana
    Jamaica
    St. Kitts and Nevis
    St. Lucia
    St. Vincent and the Grenadines
    Suriname
    Trinidad and Tobago

    Who has the right to Free Movement?

    The first requirement is that you must be a CARICOM national; that is you must be a citizen, native or resident of a CARICOM state or a company formed under the laws of Member States as a “CARICOM Company”.
    You can qualify for the Right to Free Movement under three broad categories:
    Wage-earners – Persons who wish to work for a company or organization in another member state.
    Self Employed – Non wage-earners seeking to provide services on a temporary basis.
    Self Employed – Non wages-earners seeking to exercise the Right of Establishment

    I wish to seek a job in another CSME state; do I qualify for free Movement?

    In order to qualify for the Right to Free Movement as a wage-earner you must fall within the categories of workers that have been approved for free movement.
    CARICOM Heads of Government have agreed to ten (10) categories or workers that qualify for free movement. These include:
    University Graduates
    Media Workers
    Sportspersons
    Artistes
    Musicians
    Professional Nurses
    Qualified Teachers
    Artisans with a Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ)
    Holders of Associate Degrees or equivalent qualifications such as: 2 CAPE/”A” Levels and National Technician Certificates
    Household Domestics with a Caribbean Vocational Qualifications (CVQ) or equivalent qualification

  22. Can I as a CARICOM citizen just go to any island I like and just stay with no checks at all and no registration into their national revenue and insurance scheme while making use of their public tax paid for services? Is that what people understood by FREE MOVEMENT?

  23. Speaking on behalf of the Guyanese people. I have Guyanese players with CSME certificates that continues to get hassle while I had players come from Canada with ease. Same hassle for Cubans but different law for the people who opening supermarkets all over the place and selling gyro. According to my friend Earl Mango Pierre ” all you good yes”.

    • What is good for one should be good for all. It appears that the people that you are referring to are ‘legal’ but this is something one of our investigative journalists needs to take up.

  24. Does free movement mean absolutely no checks and processes? Does it mean anyone can go live and work anywhere without registering into the national scheme and therefore not having to pay the same taxes citizens pay?

    I do not think they thought the thing through properly at all.

  25. Thanks Lasana Liburd……Julius P A Gittens check it out

  26. You all ever saw the movie about how my JA people was always treated when they returned from the America eh, their luggage was always searched thoroughly eh, compared to the white people who was coming to their sweet country on vacation eh and they wasn’t searched at all just given a free pass and even had their own line in order to do so eh, well nutten has really changed eh, and if alyuh need a copy of the movie eh I will certainly get one to you all eh I think the name of the movie is “Life and debt ” Them really good yes

  27. Lester Logie, that is also my contention. It is not that the immigration laws have to be strictly enforced. I am all for that. It is that they are not enforced ACROSS THE BOARD and there is public office collusion in illegal activities regarding certain illegal immigrants.

  28. Lester
    Entry Requirements for Visitors

    Every person (including minors) seeking admission at a port of entry in Trinidad and Tobago must be in possession of a valid travel document/passport.
    A person who is not a citizen or a resident of Trinidad and Tobago must be in possession of a valid return ticket to his/her homeland or country of residence.
    A person who is not a citizen or a resident of Trinidad and Tobago must be in possession of sufficient funds for his/her upkeep during his/her stay in Trinidad and Tobago.
    A person who is neither a citizen nor a resident of Trinidad and Tobago must provide a proper local address.
    A person who is neither a citizen nor resident of Trinidad and Tobago and who is a citizen of a country that requires a visa for entry into Trinidad and Tobago must be in possession of such.
    Every person seeking admission to Trinidad and Tobago on arrival must complete an Immigration E/D Card (Form 1).
    A person seeking admission to Trinidad and Tobago other than as a tourist or visitor must be in possession of one of the following, subject to the purpose of the visit: –
    Work Permit
    Student Permit
    Missionary Permit
    Minister’s Permit
    Certificate of Recognition of Caribbean Community Skills Qualification

    • This is what immigration officers use to refuse entry. The CCJ case has gone beyond this as the original post stated. Based on the CCJ ruling they were not given an opportunity to challenge their denial of entry and other requirements such as putting in writing the reasons for their denial etc.

    • “The CCJ ruled that where a CARICOM national is refused entry into a member state, that national should be allowed to consult an attorney, a consular official, or to contact a family member.

      The CCJ also ruled that member states should give, promptly and in writing, reasons for refusing entry to CARICOM nationals. The receiving state is also obliged to inform the refused national of his or her right to challenge the decision.”

  29. I agree with the concerns you raise. My main issue is the drug trafficking, human trafficking and slave labour attached to illegal immigration. Apparently that is not the concern of those who can police this situation as it seems to me these illegal immigrants are hiding in plain sight.

  30. Lester Logie, Yup that is true. I think everyone here knows their Trinidad and Tobago history.

    But now we are talking about present day realities. We have national societies with tax-payers and a fragile economy that has to care for the social and security needs of those who live here. A population boom affects that. A population boom of people not contributing taxes and requiring even more extensive use of social services affects that. A population boom of people engaging in illegal activity drastically affects that. A population boom of people local employers hire as slave labor to escape proper labor laws, paying taxes and paying health insurance drastically affects that too.

  31. The Revised Treaty promised that there would be free movement of ALL CARICOM citizens between member states by 2015. If this has not happened, that is a failure of the bureaucrats. This means that I should not face the same kind of restrictions within my regional bloc as if I were entering a country outside of my regional bloc. Let us recall that US citizens were once able to roll up to Piarco with a driver’s licence and get een. The Shanique Myrie ruling makes it clear that all CARICOM citizens have the right to have the same expectations of free movement while travelling within their SINGLE market and economy.

    • While the Treaty may have promised, it probably has not been implemented. TATT promised to have portable cell numbers by March 2016 but this has been put off for some more months.

    • So there is still discretion by the receiving state. Further qualification of the free movement initiative.

    • Did the New Treaty do away with the applications for the Certificates? I’ve never heard that

    • TATT is the regulator. It is for the operators to implement number portability. So while governments at CARICOM agree to initiatives it is up to individual member states to implement. Herein lies the problem.

    • And they all have to implement at the same time otherwise there are greater problems.

    • This is the CCJ ruling: “The CCJ ruled that where a CARICOM national is refused entry into a member state, that national should be allowed to consult an attorney, a consular official, or to contact a family member.

      The CCJ also ruled that member states should give, promptly and in writing, reasons for refusing entry to CARICOM nationals. The receiving state is also obliged to inform the refused national of his or her right to challenge the decision.”

  32. This is NONSENSE! I am a Trini living and working in Saint Lucia. I did not just fly here and settle here. I have no idea why some Caribbean people think they do not need to go through the process of getting their CARICOM Skills Certificate (police record, proper certificates of your academic and/or technical qualifications) and also having it verified by the Labor Ministry of the country they want to live in (you need to already have an employer who paying you, a tax number and national insurance number). That is what I had to do.

    Free movement yes. But there are processes to go through. What made people from Jamaica or otherwise feel they can just waltz into a country, no police record, no proof of education, skills, no employer, no arrangement to pay taxes and national insurance to the country they want to move into and just take advantage of the country’s economic opportunities?

    NONSENSE!

    • That’s correct…one must obtain the skills certificate

    • Simple they have no skills

    • Joann Charles Oh they have “skills” alright. Skills we do not NEED in T&T.

    • I think some people are unaware of the difference between traveling to Caricom Islands under the CSME and simply going on a vacation

    • And by the way, I know many Jamaicans who went through the proper process to live and settle both in Trinidad and in Saint Lucia. Our current Head of Research is Jamaican.

    • Mel Lissa And if you are coming on vacation, Immigration is going to ask which hotel, guest house or residence you are staying at and when you plan to leave and they check to see if you actually have the funds to facilitate that stay.

    • Yes..I was going to mention that. Same process as if you’re going to NAmerica or Europe on a vacation

    • Mel Lissa And if they check your bags and see you bringing things that does not add up to coming here on vacation their red flag will go up too.

    • The majority of people are unaware Jessica

    • The thing is, thousands of Jamaicans easily come into T&T with the proper papers and processes and have no issues. They come to work, study and on vacation. We flooded with Jamaicans for Carnival. No issues. I’ve worked professionally with many Jamaicans who had no issues.

      So if there are issues with some Jamaicans, they obviously did not do the proper processes.

    • Did the Jamaicans who were turned away just show up at Piarco and say that they came to stay/work without the necessary documents? I suspect that that’s what happened

    • Mel Lissa Me too. If so, the fault is on them and on their Government for not educating their people.

    • We hardly hear about the CSME these days though…maybe some promo material is needed to avoid this

    • They were also upset they were not giving accommodations. Apparently they also did not have sufficient funds to put themselves up for one night. So how could they possibly have the funds to be on vacation. When you are on vacation, you have emergency money or you divert the money you had for the emergency. The Airline only pays to put you up if your hold over is THEIR FAULT.

    • The stories I saw suggest that they came for a holiday. One was bringing a child to see her father (who was here illegally). I feel certain that they do not say they are coming to work because then they would have to say who their employer was. I heard a Jamaican on one of the talk shows who was extremely annoyed because the person who was doing the collecting at the airport was outside waiting while the immirgration officers said they could not locate him.

      If I look at the bags in one of the photos in the article of the group who were turned away, that looked like a lot of baggage for a vacation to me!

    • Mel Lissa I agree, a simple explainer video showing step by step what the process is.

    • ^^^^In all the Countries signed up under the CSME..including here

    • Judy-ann Stewart Ah! So now it makes sense. They would not have been able to say who the father was either because he is here illegally. He would also not want to be located by Immigration because they would question him as well.

    • Judy-ann so she disclosed that she was bringing her child to see her father who was here illegally? And she didn’t expect to be sent back?

    • When you are anxious to go somewhere where you believe you will be able to work, you may not want to look at the video. They know that they will be illegal. Given that, I wonder at the Jamaicans I see working at the gas stations and in security.

    • Lots of them are here illegally

    • Mel Lissa It wasn’t her child! Lol! The thing is that they assume that no questions will be asked.

    • Why would they assume that? I bet they won’t assume such had this been the US, Canada or even the UK

    • They might be using the same tactics that they use in those places. Say you are going on vacation and give the name of someone that you will be staying by. When they come here, they all have someone that they are staying by, even if the address or name is incorrect.

    • Judy-ann Stewart Do you believe they should be reported or left alone? And you do have a point. Those who want to come illegally do not care about any explainer video showing the legal process.

      The employers hiring illegals, are they paying taxes, NIS on these employees or using it as a way to get cheap labor. Because that is also an issue. What happens when one of these illegal workers gets sick? The whole thing just opens up a can of worms for exploitation of cheap labor with NO reinvestment into national funds while at the same time depriving citizens of jobs which due to the downturn in the economy and layoffs, they need and I believe should have preferred access to as citizens of the country, especially since the employer MUST pay tax and NIS when it is a citizen.

    • If persons who are coming for vacation cannot say where or with whom they are staying or if the address/person is incorrect, how is that meeting the requirements?

    • This is what the law says though Jessica Joseph:
      “The CCJ ruled that where a CARICOM national is refused entry into a member state, that national should be allowed to consult an attorney, a consular official, or to contact a family member.

      The CCJ also ruled that member states should give, promptly and in writing, reasons for refusing entry to CARICOM nationals. The receiving state is also obliged to inform the refused national of his or her right to challenge the decision.”

    • Whilst we sending back our Caricom brothers and sisters who entered our country legally, over 14 000 Venezuelans came for the year legally and I have not heard of one that was sent back according to the figures given by the Minister. 43 Venezuelans did not leave. How much different is this from the Jamaicans. Did the Venezuelans have to provide evidence to immigration on how they intended to sustain themselves? Are they not a drain on the public purse and a source of foreign exchange leakage? Do they state who they are staying with etc, or are they allowed entry because immigration officers are not bilingual? The ruling of the CCJ provides the rules for our immigration officers to follow. It seems to me it is different strokes for different folks. Caricom citizens from certain countries are treated worst than non Caricom nationals.

    • Lester Logie I would expect even more stringent treatment for Venezuelans, especially given the situation there. If that was not followed, I would be even more outraged. Whether it was followed or not, still does not exempt the proper processes from taking place regarding the case under discussion with the Jamaicans who were sent back.

    • I agree with the points you have made in your second paragraph Jessica. All of the illegal immigrants should be sent back because of their treatment as illegal workers or the fact that they may turn to crime as their only option. We have enough problems at the moment with the level of firings, retrenchments and redundancies that we are currently experiencing. If we need unskilled labour then that can be a government to government arrangement – nice and above board.

    • Lester Logie, the Venezuelans come in legally and except for 43 outof over 14,000 did not overstay. No problem there. The problem would be the Venezuelans and other persons who come in illegally through Cedros or other ‘ports’. These are the ones they need to find and deport.

    • Judy-ann Stewart Most definitely! We are a fragile economy. We can become Venezuela “just like that” through social breakdown and our public systems collapsing. Some countries have the resilience to deal with mass immigration, we don’t.

    • My expectations are much lower since the gateway to the drug trade in the Caribbean lies south and speaking Spanish is not a requirement for immigration officers. They come here freely. Who is available that can speak their language to question their intentions?

    • I don’t have an issue for deporting those who are here illegally. Some are quite easy to locate. Check the security industry, fast food outlets and houses of ill repute. My concern is with turning back persons who in my opinion have met the requirements for entry. Put systems in place to refuse entry at the country of origin. Don’t turn them back from here and make this a foreign relations crisis.

    • Have they turned back anyone who met the requirements for entry?

    • Based on the ruling of the CCJ in my opinion they have. The ruling is not about those who came to work under CSME which we are concerned about but for those entering for other reasons such as for vacation. The CCJ set forth the guidelines for refusing entry as stated in the original post.

    • Lasana Liburd And if this was not done, then it is Immigration’s fault if they were properly informed of the procedure and did not follow it. If they were not properly informed of the procedure then it is the Government’s fault for not ensuring their security officials abide by the proper rules. If these rules were not clear to Government, then it is CARICOM’s fault for not making them clear.

    • CARICOM comprises governments. So the fault is internal in my opinion.
      Now if those people sent lawsuits by the dozen. What would be our position?
      Our immigration is, almost certainly, wrong. It is not up to their interpretation. They must follow procedure or we can pay the consequences legally.

    • Was there a procedure they knew they had to follow and didn’t? That is what has to be determined.

    • It won’t matter though. Trinidad and Tobago signed this to this treaty. Whether the relevant minister appropriately discussed it with the relevant immigrations head doesn’t matter.
      Only whether they followed the law.
      All that will matter is whether procedure was followed. Not if the immigration office on call that day was competent or not.

  33. It seems so odd that governments sign up for a Caribbean treaty yet seemingly put little in place to actually implement it.
    Is that incompetence? Or dishonesty? Or bureaucracy?