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Diaspora Conference gets thumbs up from delegates

Published:Friday | June 21, 2019 | 12:12 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer

Delegates of the 8th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference have fully endorsed the National Diaspora Policy, signalling their support for the document in its draft stage, effectively giving the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade the green light to place it before the Cabinet.

“In the end, they all endorsed the policy, having had among themselves short conversations, and they got from each other explanations that allowed them to endorse the policy as is,” said Ambassador Sharon Saunders, undersecretary for the Diaspora, Protocol and Consular Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.

Delegates met in country groups to discuss issues they wanted ventilated or clarified regarding the policy.

Saunders said that after Cabinet has approved the policy, it will go before a joint parliamentary committee for deliberation.

“There will be a cross-party consideration of the policy, and, hopefully, it may or may not be amended or changed in areas to improve it, and, thereafter, it will be approved for adoption,” she said.

“The end result is a really comprehensive framework. It is not an action plan, but it is an enabling framework from which will be developed action plans along all the various thematic areas that will embrace all the various principles and goals of the policy,” added Saunders.


She told The Gleaner that the policy is not prescriptive, but is enabling and is a facilitatory, overarching framework for diaspora engagement, involvement, and immersion in national development.

Overall, Saunders said that the conference has been given a passing grade.

Delegates told The Gleaner that they were delighted with the breadth of items discussed and are awaiting the final policy on which to pin their efforts.

“I am humbled by those comments that this was a most meaningful conference and a really good experience for them,” said Saunders.

Samantha Williams, a delegate from England, said that discussions bode well for the implementation of projects upon her return.

She said her focus is in the area of crime and that the plan laid out for tackling the issue by Police Commissioner Antony Anderson has given her hope.

“Crime is always the big-ticket issue at these conferences. I am delighted that the police are working hard to combat this debilitating situation, and I am confident that what we want will be looked at and put into action. Overall, it was the best conference I have been to in a while,” she said.