Trinidad denied 320 Jamaicans entry last year
On the eve of the visit of Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to Jamaica, new data is showing that the twin-island republic denied entry to 320 Jamaicans in 2015, almost two per cent of the total number of Jamaicans who sought entry into the oil-rich country over the period.
Overall, 16, 826 Jamaicans were able to enter Trinidad and Tobago last year hassle free, using the CARICOM (Caribbean Community) free movement provisions.
In comparison, Jamaica admitted about 12,875 Trinidad and Tobago citizens into the island for the period. Two citizens were denied entry.
Kamina Johnson Smith, foreign affairs and foreign trade minister, and leader of government business in the Senate, made the disclosure in the Senate yesterday in response to questions raised by her Opposition counterpart, Mark Golding.
"The data tells us a few things, including that relative to the size of the populations, a greater percentage of nationals from Trinidad and Tobago entered Jamaica in 2015. But when looking at the cases of denials, there's a significantly higher rate of denials by Trinidad and Tobago," Johnson Smith pointed out.
Johnson Smith also revealed that Trinidad was on track to denying another two per cent of Jamaicans this year as authorities there have reportedly denied 230 Jamaicans between January and June this year.
Johnson Smith said, "Immediately after our bilateral interventions, the trend fell. We do continue to have a concern about the comparatively high rate of denials."
Golding is cautioning that the data must be carefully assessed as the reasons for denials are not fully known.
Meanwhile, the long-standing immigration concerns are expected to be given attention from Rowley, who will be having a series of discussions with Prime Minister Andrew Holness when he arrives on Sunday for his four-day visit.
A statement from the Office of the Prime Minister said the visit "follows ongoing discussions between both governments towards the resolution of long-standing bilateral and regional issues, including the related free movement of community nationals and immigration matters [and] trade.
The leaders are expected to sign a cooperation agreement.
The free movement and immigration issue was one of the major items discussed by CARICOM leaders at their Guyana Heads of Government Meeting earlier this month.
The Gleaner obtained a CARICOM report which criticised authorities in Trinidad and Tobago for denying entry to CARICOM nationals in violation of community laws or decisions of the Caribbean Court of Justice. They had also failed to report cases of denials.