Detention centre not just for Jamaicans
PORT OF SPAIN – The Trinidad and Tobago government has denied suggestions that it is establishing a new facility near the Piarco International Airport to house Jamaican nationals prevented from entering the oil-rich twin island republic.
On Thursday, the Jamaican Observer newspaper reported that the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith, had informed the Standing Finance Committee (SFC) of the House of Representatives of the new development as it completed its review of the 2016/17 Estimates of Expenditure.
It quoted her as telling the legislators that she has been informed of the decision in correspondence received from her Trinidad and Tobago counterpart Senator David Moses following bilateral discussions during the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) meeting just over a week ago.
Johnson Smith said that the issue of the treatment of Jamaicans who are denied entry at the Piarco Airport was a fairly complex one, but that the new development was an indication of the progress being made in their discussions.
However, National Security Minister Edmund Dillon, speaking at the end of the weekly Cabinet meeting here, said that it was wrong to say that the new facility, expected to be completed in July, would only house Jamaicans.
“As the acting minister of foreign affairs…it is not specifically for Jamaicans. It is for anyone who has been debarred entry based on immigration status.
“We are treating with them in a particular way, so it is not for Jamaicans and we are putting measures in place to treat with anyone,” he added.
Relations between the two CARICOM countries have been strained over the decision of Port of Spain to deport a number of Jamaicans whom they said would have been a charge on the state for their stay here having shown no means of sustaining themselves while in the country.
A former national security minster here has blamed the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) for the number of Jamaicans arriving here and urged the government to maintain a tough stance on the immigration issue.
The Jamaica foreign affairs minister said that in respect of the discussions regarding the free movement of people, it has already been agreed to refer the matter to the regional leaders when they meet in Guyana in July. (CMC)