KINGSTON: Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago resumed their talks on Tuesday in hopes of settling an immigration matter that had threatened to escalate to a trade war between the two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries.
Trinidad & Tobago’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Dookeran, who led a delegation to the talks, said that a “trade war” would not benefit neither of the countries and that he had come to Kingston “to open this dialogue, to listen to what these concerns are, to identify the nerve that has been inflamed and to see how we can together work towards remedying or getting the cure for that nerve”.
Dookeran warned that both countries would “suffer in terms of investment, employment and building our own productive capability”.
Media reports had indicated that 13 Jamaicans were denied entry into Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, last month and deported to their homeland.
The Jamaica Ministry of Foreign Affairs has since issued a warning to Jamaicans travelling to Trinidad and Tobago stating it was “concerned at this development and continues to interface with the relevant authorities in Trinidad & Tobago on the matter, particularly in light of the Shanique Myrie ruling by the Caribbean Court of Justice”.
Earlier this year, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruled that Barbados had breached the right of Myrie when she sought entry into the country in 2011, but stopped short of awarding the one million Barbados dollars in compensation she had sought.
Myrie, 25, who had been granted leave by the CCJ to file the action, alleged that when she travelled to Barbados on March 14, 2011 she was discriminated against because of her nationality, subjected to a body cavity search, detained overnight in a cell and deported to Jamaica the following day.
Jamaica said it was urging nationals who believe their rights under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) regime have been breached, to make a report to the nearest Jamaican High Commission or the Ministry.
Dookeran, who arrived in Jamaica on Monday at the invitation of his Jamaican counterpart, A.J .Nicholson, to discuss the issue, said that he was aware “that a nerve has somehow been ignited in the relationship between Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica.
“I am aware that this inflamed nerve must be addressed, and whatever solutions must be applied must be applied in order to cure that inflamed nerve. That nerve links between the supermarkets in Jamaica to the immigration authorities in Piarco and we are very much concerned about how that inflamed nerve has now transcended into a wider issue,” he said.
Nicholson reiterated the need for hassle free travel within the region.
“It is the single most important issue that affects the perception of Jamaicans of the benefits of CARICOM,” he said. “The treatment meted out to Jamaicans at Piarco International Airport and the sharp increase in the number of Jamaicans being returned from Trinidad & Tobago have together generated considerable public outrage.”