Jul 06, 2016 News
Caricom nationals being denied entry to various Caricom countries and allegations of unfair treatment toward others, continue to be concerns within the Region, and issues that need to be addressed.
This was highlighted by Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, during the opening of the 37th Heads of Government Meeting held at the National Culture Centre on Monday.
The diplomat acknowledged the challenges related to the free movement regime and the facilitation of travel, and stated that while member states have the right to deny entry, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) had ruled on the specific circumstances under which they may do so.
One such case is that of Jamaican Shanique Myrie, who was awarded BDS$77,240 after the CCJ handed down its judgement in favour of Myrie who claimed damages against the state of Barbados that she was treated unfairly when she arrived at the Grantley Adams Airport in March 2011.
The Court had ruled that subjecting her to a cavity search, locking her up in an unsanitary cell and deporting her, ran contrary to the rules of the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
The CCJ made it definitive that people of CARICOM must be allowed without harassment into any member state for six months; and that if a refusal is made, the person must be given the reason in writing, and must be notified of their right to seek legal redress.
Ambassador LaRocque went on to say that to assist in remedying some of the problems associated with the movement of CARICOM nationals, training and sensitisation of immigration officials must increase for them to “act more closely in line with the policies agreed to by their governments,”
Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness also spoke of the treatment of Jamaicans in a particular country. He stated that Jamaicans have been expressing concerns of increased cases of denial of entry and treatment at ports of entry at other jurisdictions. This, he said, must be urgently addressed in a meaningful way.
Chapter III of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas provides for the free movement of skilled Community nationals (article 46) as well as for the free movement of non-wage earners, either as service providers and/or to establish businesses, including managerial, supervisory and technical staff, and their spouses and immediate family members.
Along with the free trade in goods, the Revised Treaty also provides the framework for the establishment of a regime for free trade in services. The main objective is to facilitate trade and investment in the services sectors of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
Secretary-General LaRocque had stated that the CSME is the only viable option for economic growth within the Region. He made this assertion one day prior to the Heads of Government receiving an overview on the CSME.
He said that all member states remain resolute that the CSME is the only viable option for sustained growth, and while there has been progress, he noted that there is no denying that they could have been further ahead. LaRocque urged the leaders to do “what is required” to move the process forward.
The CSME is an integrated development strategy that was envisaged at the 10th Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government which took place in July 1990 in Grand Anse, Grenada.
The Grand Anse Declaration comprised several key features including: the deepening of economic integration by advancing beyond a common market towards a Single Market and Economy; widening the membership and thereby expanding the economic mass of the Caribbean Community (e.g. Suriname and Haiti were admitted as full members in 1995 and 2002 respectively); and progressive insertion of the region into the global trading and economic system by strengthening trading links with non-traditional partners.
The CSME, with free movement one of its component, is a key item on the agenda that the Heads of Government will consider during their meeting here, which concludes today.
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