Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Professor Stephen Vasciannie, says Jamaica has a comprehensive refugee policy, which incorporates International Human Rights standards, and provides a good framework for the treatment of asylum seekers in the country.
He stated that the policy also provides a model that could be used in other CARICOM states.
He was addressing participants in a seminar on International Refugee Law,hostedby the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs of the Organization of American States (OAS) on Thursday, January 31, at the OAS headquarters in Washington DC.
According to Ambassador Vasciannie, the policy, formulated in 2009, is based expressly on the 1951 Refugees Convention and the 1967 Protocol to the Refugees Convention.
“The policy deals with three main issues – who is a refugee; what procedures should an asylum-seeker follow in seeking refugee status; and what rights do refugees have in Jamaica” he informed.
It also takes into account, geopolitical and domestic political issues in neighbouring countries, as well as resource considerations. “But in the end, the policy affirms the centrality of law,” Ambassador Vasciannie noted.
The Ambassador said that Jamaica and other Caribbean countries see themselves as operating within the mainstream of International Human Rights law, and value the opportunity to insert Caribbean perspectives in deliberations at the OAS.
Among other presenters at the all-day seminar was Deputy Regional Representative of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Buit Kale. The event was chaired by Columbia’s Permanent Representative to the OAS, Ambassador Andres Gonzalez, and participants included Ambassadors and other OAS representatives, staff and interns.