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Skilled Jamaicans refused entry to some CARICOM member states


DESPITE implementation of a Free Movement Regime for skilled nationals within the Caribbean Community (Caricom), some Jamaican nationals have been experiencing problems moving across the region, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade (MFAFT) has acknowledged.


"Within the CSME region, a number of difficulties have arisen with the movement of community nationals in some countries, as persons have been denied entry for various reasons and have complained of ill treatment at ports of entry," the ministry said in a submission to Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC).

The report, which responded to a question from the committee on what benefits Jamaicans have derived from the free movement provision, noted that Article 45 of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) agreement, speaks to the commitment of members to achieving the goal of free movement of nationals in the region.

"However, the reality is that member states maintain their national immigration and security policies and procedures aimed at controlling the entry of persons into their respective territories," the report said.

The ministry's submission, which was discussed last Wednesday by the PAAC at Gordon House, stated that, to date, it has received 20 formal complaints from Jamaicans relating to free movement within the community since 2006. The "most notable" has been the case of Shanique Myrie, which is currently before the Caribbean Court of Justice.

The foreign ministry said that it has been working closely with the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment and the Ministry of Youth and Culture to secure improvements in the situation facing entertainers and cultural workers in the region to ensure their rights under the Treaty of Chaguaramas, which established the CSME, are not breached.

"It should be noted that the movement of entertainers falls both under movement of skilled community nationals and temporary service providers," the ministry said, noting that this means that they are not required to seek skill certificates. The matter was discussed at a recent meeting of the Working Group on Free Movement, in terms of putting in place a system to record their movements without creating obstacles for them.

"In view of the challenges that have been experienced by some Jamaicans when attempting to enter other CSME countries, in 2011 Jamaica issued a travel advisory for persons intending to travel to the region," MFAFT said.

The advisory provided information on entry requirements, cautioned against illicit activities and outlined the process for redress where persons feel that they were mistreated at a port of entry. In addition, the ministry said that, along with its Caricom counterparts, it takes direct intervention when complaints are brought to its attention.

There are more than 30,000 Jamaicans residing in Caricom member states, including the Bahamas (which is not in the CSME), the ministry reported. These Jamaicans reside mainly in Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago. There are also Jamaicans living in St Maarten and the Cayman Islands, which are not members of Caricom.

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