T&T PM’s Countenance of Deportation of Jamaicans Undermine Regional Integration

Rickford Burke, CGID President

Rickford Burke, CGID President

The New York based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) condemns the November 19 deportation of thirteen Jamaican nationals from Trinidad & Tobago. We also strongly denounce Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s countenance of this action as “compliant with the law.”  CGID’s wishes to ask of what law does the Prime Minister speak?

The Jamaicans alleged that T&T Immigration officers informed them that entry was denied because of the recent murder of Trinidadian Keron Fraser in Jamaica. They said that they were mistreated while in detention, and deported the following day. T&T Immigration service has claimed that their expulsion was either because no one met them at the Airport or they presented no evidence of funds to support their stay.

The unjust deportation of Caricom nationals constitutes reprehensible violations of Articles 45 and 46 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguramas (RTC) as well as the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME). They also especially flout settled law established by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in its landmark Shanique Myrie v State of Barbados ruling.

While the court affirmed a Member State’s right to deny a Caricom national entry, it likewise concurrently affirmed a Caricom national’s right to be granted entry into a member State, provided the following two limited exceptions: (i) If the national would become “a charge on public funds” and (ii) If the national presents a threat to “public morals, the maintenance of public order and safety and the protection of life and health.”

The CCJ placed the burden of proof to establish a sufficiency of grounds to invoke either exception on the refusing State, not the national. They also conferred jurisdiction to interpret the scope and right to exercise such exceptions on the Caricom Heads Conference or designated organ, and ultimately the CCJ itself as the Guardian of the RTC.

The actions of the T&T Immigration are therefore opprobrious violations of the law. Suffice it to say Mrs. Persad-Bissessar’s assertion that the actions of T&T Immigration were lawful because the CCJ ruling gives immigration officers discretion to determine undesirability, is atrociously uninformed as the said ruling imposed strict restrictions on the exercise of such discretion.  The Prime minister’s comments therefore engender division among nations and dangerously undermine regional integration.

National Security Minister Gary Griffith told the Guardian newspaper that one person was deported because she claimed she brought her child to visit the father but the father never showed up at the airport. Another, he said, only possessed US$250 to support their stay. He affirmed that his government would not admit “people who did not have a clear way of supporting themselves or did not have individuals to assist them on entry.” He said this could lead to unemployment.

This is an appalling level of insularity. T&T Immigration at no time established that the thirteen Jamaicans presented a threat to “public morals, national security, safety and national health” or would be “a charge on public funds.” Any belated assertion of this nature strains credulity.

Furthermore, the requirements for entry delineated by Mr. Griffith are exceedingly arbitrary, subjective and contrary to the law. They are a flagrant violation of Articles 45 and 46 of the RTC. Would the T&T government countenance the arbitrary imposition of such “wishy-washy” criterions on Trinidadians by other Caricom States?

The CCJ in the instant ruling expressly held that the mere assertion by the refusing State of a national’s inability to identify a legitimate host, or failure to be greeted at the Airport, is in and of itself insufficient grounds to justify refusal of entry. Moreover the ruling reaffirmed the supremacy of regional law whenever there is a conflict between national and regional laws.

Article 45 of the RTC states that “Member States commit themselves to the goal of free movement of their nationals within the Community.” Article 46. 2. States that “Member States shall establish appropriate legislative, administrative and procedural  arrangements to: (a) facilitate the movement of skills within the contemplation of this Article; (b) provide for movement of Community nationals into and within their jurisdictions without harassment or the imposition of impediments, including: (i) the elimination of the requirement for passports …work permits…” Can this vision ever be achieved?

These violations by the T&T government demonstrate the urgent need for Caricom to establish uniform regulations and modalities for entry and stay in member States. The RTC must also be amended to mandate that States must, within a specific time-frame of enactment, harmonize their national laws to comport with regional law.

Regional integration cannot be attained in the face of protectionist, insular public policy by individual States. Deeper integration will derive from altruistic, harmonized policies that propel the “region as a whole” towards greater cohesiveness and development.

CGID reiterates its call for all Caricom member States to amend their laws to recognize the CCJ as the court of ultimate appellate jurisdiction. It is preposterous that the CCJ is based in T&T but that country refuses to amend it constitution to recognize the court as its ultimate court of appeal.

Contact: Jevon Suralie, Director of Communications
Tel: 347-403-9092. Email: Caribbeaninstitute@gmail.com

16 thoughts on “T&T PM’s Countenance of Deportation of Jamaicans Undermine Regional Integration

  1. I do not understand how a court could be a court of original jurisdiction and you cannot appeal any decision of the court.

    • T&T’s brazen action by rejecting entry to the Jamaicans maybe signalling that it will raise some motion to amend the RTOC at the next heads of government.

  2. Bajans should take a back seat in this Jamaica / T&T affair. Recently when were at the receiving end of the CCJ and Jamaica, not a single Caricom country came to our defence, in fact they did the opposite, in that, while we were down on the ground, many of them took the opportunity to kick us in the goolies.
    Lets sit this one out, while licking our wounds. Other Caricom countries will act in a similar way as T&T when the mess eventually turns up on their door steps.

  3. David
    See too what I mean…..contact Word Press….too many errors
    “Bajans should take a back seat in this Jamaica / T&T affair. Recently when were at the receiving end of the CCJ and Jamaica, …”

    Alvin on another thread believes his computer is faulty…….something is wrong

  4. Deport them!
    When you enter this country to engage in the “underground sex trade” and leave here after 3 or 4 month s with $25 -40000 US in hand, that negatively affects our foreign exchange reserves and our economy. Also, you do nothing to positively contribute to the economy of the country. So why do we need you here? Parasites!
    Deport them!Who gets upset at me can stay that way.

  5. Why would 17000 Jamaicans be in Trinidad illegally.Where and how do they not constitute a charge on the public purse.It appears that Jamaicans are running from the Jamaican poor rakey government of PNP and the JLP as well.
    Bajans ran to Trinidad in the early 20th century and we have some of their decendants calling VOB Brasstacks and praising this poor rakey DLP government to high heaven and being excessively critical of the BLP up to this day although the BLP lost 2 elections since her incessant,misguided crusade.
    If she has clout with any Trinidad connections she might encourage them to
    have CAL help this misguided Minister of Tourism who in 6 years has done more harm to Barbados than a hurricane.For crisssake,the man is supposed to be an engineer.He has proved himself to be one of the worst ministers of tourism Barbados has ever had to put up with.He’s out of his depth and his advisers are worse.

  6. @Colonel Buggy | November 28, 2013 at 8:36 PM |

    Co-sign your opinion when Barbados was unfairly taking heat in the Myrie case the rest of the Caribbean including T&T were gloating well its T&T’s turn let them feel the pinch of the shoe. No one wants to stop islanders from travelling in fact inter island movement should be welcomed. What cannot be business as usual is criminals and undesirables descending on a country’s borders. Unlucky for Jamaica their criminals have earned an unwanted reputation worldwide for the Land of Wood and Water. Many Jamaicans who abhor criminality are gong to be hit with the Peter pays for Paul principle. Lets see how T&T gets out of this one as we for once look on from the sidelines.

  7. Some clarification is needed here…..I don’t mean those girls who come in here from JA and end up in the striptee houses.. there is a place in Bim that you can order from catalog your choice of Caribbean honey….for the right price that is….. its big business…they arrive first class….no confusion here as was with….

  8. That whole CSME / CCJ business is just one big Lump of shiite.
    Who in this day and age – in their right minds- wants to FORCE a set of different people, who dislike each other, to become one people?
    …a bunch of jackass politicians looking for relevance – that’s who.

    All we need is decent, respectful neighborly relations.

    How the hell can any thinking court RULE that any of Bushie’s neighbors have a RIGHT to knock on Bushie’s door and walk in when they feel like it…?
    …and who the hell is this court anyhow? CCJ? Is there a Caribbean entity that backs this so called court?
    …when Trinidad diss their judicial backsides – who will enforce the rulings? The Caribbean police force? The West India regiment?
    Brass bowls…

    Of course we would know that Bajan brass bowls would bend over without thinking once the mock court ruled….
    Perhaps it is clearer now why Trickidadians largely own everything bout here…
    Next thing T&T will do is start rounding up the lotta illegals there and sending them back…or sending them here… 🙂

    • @Bush Tea

      Don’t let PW who you chase away from BU read your last comment.

      So far we have not had the same venom of words between Jamaica and T&T.

  9. @ David
    What PW what?!
    Likkle boy!!

    So far we have not had the same venom of words between Jamaica and T&T.
    Those fellows don’t talk….they act.
    They are not Bajans.

  10. @ helpless: The CCJ only has original jurisdiction on maters pertaining to the interpretation of the RTC and others policies or laws emanating therefrom

  11. @ helpless
    I do not understand how a court could be a court of original jurisdiction and you cannot appeal any decision of the court.
    Very likely, you do not understand because you are not a brass bowl.
    You are likely applying COMMON SENSE. …..freak!

    – Only a bb would establish a court to “interpret rules and policies” for a Regional concept that is conceptual at best.
    – who else would make their regional FINAL court the FIRST decision point in such a complex area as deciding on nebulous inter island policies?
    – who could SERIOUSLY expect that any such controversial decisions would be respected or enforced by the aggrieved state? States that have historically subtracted 1 from 10 to get ZERO.

    ….that plan was destined for confusion and failure from the start.

    Obviously a STATE must precede a court. Obviously there must be arrangements for ENFORCEMENT of decisions.

    …but even more FUNDAMENTALLY…..why was it necessary to have this stupid, mindless, ignorant treaty anyhow….? …in an environment where for the last 80 years, Caribbean peoples (Including Bushie and Islandgal) have been travelling to and fro without even the SLIGHTEST thought of problems or issues….until the jackass politician got involved…..
    …now the whole thing fcuked up……

  12. TNT explained why these 13 were deported.

    “Immigration officers continue to play a key role in securing the borders of Trinidad and Tobago, while facilitating the free movement of Caricom nationals as enshrined in Article 45 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. The latter function,” he added, “does not in any way supersede their primary function as border control officers, because entry into Trinidad and Tobago for Caricom nationals is not an automatic matter.
    “Like each and every visitor, they, too, must also meet the immigration requirements to be allowed entry,” he said.
    Griffith maintained that the 13 deportees had no financial resources, no addresses, and information in their immigration forms was false. http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/Griffith-backs-deportation-of-13-Jamaicans-233547721.html

    The fact that Jamaica gone quiet since more info come out says alot..

    Aye yuh know what…

    When I go Guyana next month I will say I come to work without a skills certificate or work permit in my hand and nothing as much as a letter from my host… Lemme see den what they go do with my behind!

    And comparisons to Myrie make no sense, none of these 13 were assaulted the way Myrie was..

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