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Trinidad & Tobago PM’s Countenance Of Deportation Of Jamaicans Undermine Regional Integration Says NY Institute

Trinidad & Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Nov. 29, 2013: The New York- based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) says Trinidad & Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s countenance of the November 19 deportation of thirteen Jamaican nationals from her country seriously engenders division among nations and dangerously undermine Caribbean regional integration.

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.

But the CGID says 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,” the group said in a statement Thursday.

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,” CGID stated.

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, CGID’s President, Rickford Burke added.

CGID also reiterated 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.

“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 Institute added.

“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.”