Protect our citizens' safety and travelling rights - Bartlett
OPPOSITION SPOKESMAN on foreign affairs and foreign trade, Edmund Bartlett, is calling on the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Arnold Nicholson to clarify the Government's position on what he has termed "the continued harassment and demeaning treatment of Jamaican citizens by member states of CARICOM".
In commenting on the recently reported case of 13 Jamaicans who were denied entry to Trinidad, Bartlett said, "These Jamaicans were left hungry and cold and were made to sleep on hard concrete, and this is only the latest of a series of crude, uncivil and embarrassing treatment of Jamaicans by our regional partners!" He continued, "Certainly, if the provisions of the Treaty of Chaguaramas are to be taken seriously, particularly as it relates to freedom of movement, then Minister Nicholson must move swiftly to protect our nationals' rights to travel within CARICOM and to be treated decently and with respect!"
Bartlett said, "The fact that our nationals cannot be accorded the respect and dignity they deserve is calling into question the substance of 'regional integration'. If allowed to continue, this treatment will certainly strengthen and justify the loud calls by many for Jamaica to review its position on CARICOM. To make matters more troubling, Jamaicans have no assurance that the Government is doing much to protect their rights."
He said, "The problem continues despite reported visits to Trinidad by Minister Nicholson, and his meetings with government officials there responsible for foreign affairs and immigration matters".
He concluded: "Jamaica needs to know whether the minister is unable to persuade our partners to protect the safety and travelling rights of our citizens under the Treaty, and if so, which by all indications it appears to be, then shouldn't the prime minister intervene and make it an agenda item at the next meeting of the heads of CARICOM?".