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Do not politicise new diaspora council — Hanna

Saturday, November 09, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica— People's National Party's (PNP) spokesperson on foreign affairs and foreign trade, Lisa Hanna, says the Government is continuing what she says is “its arrogant disregard” for the Jamaican Diaspora.

Hanna today argued that the Government has steamrolled its partisan agenda by imposing its own Global Jamaica Diaspora Council (GJDC) on overseas Jamaicans.

“The Jamaican Diaspora is a national asset which must not be politicised,” she said in a statement.

She stated that there has been no dialogue with the Opposition and Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Kamina Johnson-Smith's proposal of appointing herself and 14 other members to the council, effectively giving her control of the diaspora voice, is blatantly immoral.

“It also deprives legitimate Jamaican organisations, who have elected their own representatives to serve with non-partisan structured approaches, from participation,” Hanna continued.

According to the Opposition spokesperson, Johnson-Smith is ignoring the cries of members of the National Association of Jamaican and Supportive Organisations (NAJASCO) who have warned against the ministry's control of the process and the autonomy of the diaspora.

In a statement issued recently, a number of community leaders from the North Eastern region of the United States, called for the postponement of the elections for the Global Jamaica Diaspora Council until further discussions have been held with their community.

“These concerns and others raised by members of the diaspora communities have refuted the minister's previous pronouncements that meaningful consultations were held with all of the existing groupings and interests within the Jamaican Diaspora,” Hanna said.

The spokesperson reiterated her call for a review of the framework of the new diaspora body and its policies to ensure that Jamaicans who are actively engaged and willing to participate are not left out, irrespective of where they reside in the global community.

According to Hanna, the review must answer some of the important questions, which she said he has already asked in the public domain and tabled in Parliament.

She reiterated that the council needs to be an independent body, representing the views of members of the diaspora without political influence or interference. It must have a free hand in representing its interests to government without political impediment of any kind, she said.


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