Jamaica’s relationship with Trinidad and Tobago improving

Johnson Smith says there has been a 64% decrease

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter henryb@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

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Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Kamina Johnson Smith says that, since the intervention of the Government, there has been a 64 per cent decrease in the number of Jamaicans refused entry into Trinidad and Tobago.

"We have experienced a 64 per cent reduction in Jamaicans refused entry between March and December 2016, as well as reduced complaints of mistreatment," Senator Johnson Smith told a press conference at her ministry in New Kingston, yesterday.

She said that the ministry has received feedback from travellers and, through enquiries by the high commission in Port of Spain, found that there is a "generally improved experience at immigration".

"We do not expect perfection, but work has definitely been done for which we are pleased. The Trinidadian Government has kept its commitment to retrofit an area in the airport to comfortably accommodate persons, including Jamaicans, who are not landed, while they await return to their country of origin," the minister said.

She added that Trinidad has also conducted at least two significant rounds of training for immigration officials at Piarco airport.

"We have been working closely with the Government of Trinidad on improving the ability of our business sector to export to Trinidad, by re-establishing a trade desk within the Jamaican High Commission, and seeking to establish a model to be replicated in both Port of Spain and Kingston to identify trade issues early for swift resolution; and also working on the systemic issue of implementation of the CSME (Caribbean Single Market and Economy)," she added.

Senator Johnson Smith recalled that last March, Jamaica’s relationship with Trinidad and Tobago hit a new low, with comparatively large numbers of Jamaicans not being landed and complaints of mistreatment by immigration officials as well as undignified treatment of individuals who were not being landed in Port of Spain.

She said that Jamaica was committed to continue the downward trend in returnees and, to this end, her ministry has embarked on a public education campaign seeking to sensitise the Jamaican public on travel within the region. .

"We have hosted and will continue to host sessions that will also cover the rules governing free movement within the CSME, including the rights and obligations of Caricom nationals," she also noted.

She expressed pleasure at being able to use the opportunity to formally launch the first in a series of flyers on the CSME, including flyers on free movement and offering Jamaicans tips on travelling within Caricom.

The minister said the flyers could help Jamaicans to understand what they should do in preparing to travel to Port of Spain, who to turn to if they have a problem, and things they should be aware of regarding working and overstaying.




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