LaRocque unaware of alleged inhumane treatment of Jamaican in Trinidad

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer writer
editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, July 06, 2018

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ROSE HALL, St James — Caribbean Community (Caricom) Secretary General Irwin LaRocque says he is not aware of an incident, which was Thursday's Jamaica Observer front-page story, in which a Jamaican woman and her four-month-old son were denied entry to Trinidad and Tobago, and as a result he was reluctant to comment on the issue.

The woman, who is from St Mary, has accused Trinidad immigration of inhumane treatment.

“I am not aware of the incident at all, so I am a little bit reluctant to comment on something that I am not aware of,” LaRocque said yesterday.

The woman, who asked not to be named, stated that she was made to feel like a prisoner after being denied entry into Trinidad and Tobago days before the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of Caricom got under way at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James.

The young mother of two, who operates a clothing store, said she was detained by immigration officers when she arrived at Piarco International Airport in Port of Spain on Caribbean Airlines flight BW458 shortly after 7:00 pm on Saturday, June 30.

The child's father is Trinidadian.

The woman also claimed that she, along with her child, was denied food on the night before their deportation to Jamaica.

LaRocque said at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James yesterday that there is a complaint system in place for such incidents.

“I know the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here in Jamaica has been advocating to Jamaicans the system that has been put in place, that there is a complaint system that the persons who feel aggrieved can [use]. So I am reluctant to comment on something that has not yet gone through the official system,” LaRocque stressed, “I don't know of the case at all. I have never heard of it.”

However, the young mother told the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday that she had spoken to an attorney and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and was told to fill out a complaint form.

An official at the ministry confirmed on Wednesday that they had received her complaint.

The issue of free movement and integration was a common theme for Caricom leaders who addressed the opening ceremony of the 39th regular meeting on Wednesday.

“There is some new global development in the technological field. In October 2017, the world gasped when Saudi Arabia became the first country to grant citizenship to a robot, yet we continue to grapple with the rights of our own human Caricom citizens,” stated Dr Keith Mitchell, former Caricom chairman and prime minister of Grenada.

President of Haiti Jovenel Moise expressed similar sentiments.

“It's clear that our organisation confronts a difficult situation. It is important that we combine our efforts to find ways and means to strengthen the process of regional integration and also to define, in a concerted manner, the contours of post-Cotonou relations between the countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group and the European Union,” suggested Moise.

Moise also used the opening ceremony to publicly thank the Government of Barbados, led by Prime Minister Mia Mottley, for lifting all obstacles to the free movement of Haitians to its territory in accordance with the provisions of Article 45 and 46 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

In the meantime, when asked about individuals who may feel discouraged due to reports of issues with immigration officers in Caricom countries, LaRocque replied by encouraging people to keep the faith as progress is being made.

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