Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
A MEMBER of a select committee of Parliament has argued that if Article 45 of the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas concerning free movement of CARICOM nationals were to be implemented without impediment, it would open the floodgates for Jamaicans to migrate to other regional states.
Delroy Chuck, member of the Internal and External Affairs Committee, said on Tuesday that if the free movement of CARICOM nationals were to become a reality, it would result in the 'Jamaicanisation' of the whole Caribbean.
Said Chuck: "The reverse is also true. If we allow Haiti and the Dominican Republic free movement to the rest of the Caribbean, it would result in the 'Haitianisation' of the entire region."
At a meeting of the committee in Gordon House, Chuck asked technocrats from the Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Ministry whether the free movement of persons with CARICOM passports would be realised in the foreseeable future.
In a question to Ambassador Paul Robotham, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Chuck asked: "Is Article 45 a real illusion or mirage?"
Responding, Ambassador Robotham said Article 45 outlines that member states commit themselves to the goal of free movement of their nationals within the community. He pointed out that there were regulations that explained in detail the nature of the commitment and how the goal was to be pursued. "I am not able to say whether in our lifetime how far it would go."
Ambassador Robotham expressed cautious optimism that the heads of CARICOM had made a commitment to achieve the goal of free movement of their nationals, but noted that it was a work in progress.
Mikael Phillips, another committee member, was dissatisfied with what he said was the profiling of Jamaicans when they seek to enter other CARICOM states.
"I would beg to question the commitment of some of our CARICOM states to CARICOM itself, unless it directly benefits them and not for the greater good of the regional body," he said.
Phillips argued that it seemed as if Jamaica was accommodating all CARICOM nationals, but there was no quid pro quo arrangement.
However, Ambassador Robotham said that with the landmark Shanique Myrie/Caribbean Court of Justice ruling, changes were expected to take effect across the region.
According to the permanent secretary, on the basis of the Myrie ruling "community nationals now have a right of entry" unless there are strong reasons for their refusal.
He said if they are refused, certain requirements would have to be followed. "Reasons must be given and promptly; the visitor should be informed of his right to challenge the decision; he or she must be provided an accessible and effective appeals procedure and he or she must be informed of his right to contact an attorney, his diplomatic mission or a family member," the ambassador explained.
It was reported that of the 246,062 Jamaicans who travelled from other CARICOM states to 2006 to September 2013, a little more than 6,000 or 2.45 per cent were refused entry or returned to Jamaica.