Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, outlines the achievements of the ministry last year at a press conference held on January 11, at the Ministry’s Dominica Drive offices, New Kingston. Photo: Michael Sloley
By E. Hartman Reckord
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- The minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade has reported a 64 per cent reduction in the number of Jamaicans who have been denied entry to Trinidad and Tobago for the period March to December 2016.
Portfolio minister, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, said there have also been fewer complaints of mistreatment.
“We received feedback from travellers and through enquiries by our Jamaican High Commission in Port-of-Spain that there is generally an improved experience at immigration,” she noted.
Johnson Smith was speaking at a press conference in New Kingston on Wednesday, to outline the ministry’s achievements in 2016.
Last year, scores of Jamaicans complained about being mistreated by immigration officials at Trinidad’s Piarco International Airport after they had been refused entry into the country.
Following a visit to Jamaica by prime minister of the twin-island republic, Dr Keith Rowley, in July, an action plan was drafted outlining cooperation programmes and activities.
Johnson Smith said that the ministry is pleased with the measures taken by the Trinidad government in solving the immigration issues.
She noted that an area at the Piarco International Airport has been retrofitted to comfortably accommodate persons, including Jamaicans, who are not landed, while they await return to their country of origin. In addition, immigration officials have been trained.
She said that the governments of both countries are working to improve the ability of business persons to export to Trinidad, by re-establishing a trade desk within the Jamaican High Commission.
“We are seeking to establish a model to be replicated in both Port of Spain and Kingston to identify trade issues early for swift resolution, and also working on the implementation of the CSME (the CARICOM Single Market and Economy),” she said.
Additionally, Johnson Smith noted that the ministry will continue to work with the private sector in Jamaica and Trinidad on the various elements of the action plan coming out of the bilateral meeting during Rowley’s visit to Jamaica.
She added that the ministry has embarked on a public-education campaign to sensitise the Jamaican public on travel within CARICOM countries.
“We have hosted and will continue to host sessions, which will also cover the rules governing free movement within the CSME, including the rights and obligations of CARICOM nationals,” the minister said.