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Special area of Piarco Airport set for J'cans deported from T&T

Published:Wednesday | May 4, 2016 | 12:00 AMGary Spaulding

Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) is to set aside a special designated area at the Piarco Airport in the Port-of-Spain capital for Jamaicans who have been denied entry into that country.

The disclosure was made by Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson Smith at yesterday's meeting of the Standing Finance Committee of Parliament.

"Senator David Moses (T&T's Foreign Affairs Minister) has committed to retrofitting an appropriate area in the Piarco Airport to ensure that by July of this year, they will be better able to treat with Jamaicans and others who are denied entry," said Johnson Smith.

She said it has been agreed that the substantive discussions surrounding the free movement of people will be referred to the Heads of the CARICOM meeting in July.

Johnson Smith stressed that up to this point, discussions have been held not only at the level of the high commission in T&T, but the ministerial level as well.

"After several discussions with my counterpart in T&T, (Moses), I was again able to meet with him in the margins of the meeting in New York," she said. "He has also responded to correspondence that I had sent."

Johnson Smith echoed the sentiments of Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture Karl Samuda at Tuesday's meeting of the Standing Finance Committee.

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She emphasised that there were signals that the T&T government was moving to address concerns raised by the Jamaican Government.

"The matter of T&T has been complex, but we have been making progress," said Johnson Smith.

She said that Samuda "very ably" managed the trade aspect of the discussions in respect of sugar and fuel at the meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development.

Johnson Smith said she took on the issue of the free movement of people that the Jamaican Government had placed on the agenda in the aftermath of complaints raised by Jamaicans who were denied entry into T&T.

She noted that the issue of treatment meted out to Jamaicans who had been turned back in T&T was an ongoing one with which the former administration had to contend.

Things came to a head two years ago when 13 Jamaicans were turned away. The complaints generated an intervention from then Foreign Affairs Minister A.J. Nicholson, but the issue resurfaced after another batch of Jamaicans were turned back in 2016.

Johnson noted as well that the required action had not been consistently taken by T&T, one of the agreements being the consistent training by CARICOM of immigration officials.

"One of the actions that we are taking is to follow up with CARICOM about the amount of training that is being offered to T&T immigration officers," she said.