- Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Winston Dookeran, has assured that there is “absolutely” no profiling or targeting of Jamaicans by immigration officials in his country.
- Mr. Dookeran informed that 96 per cent of Jamaicans seeking admittance into Trinidad and Tobago last year, were given right of entry.
- Mr. Dookeran’s declarations were made following a series of bilateral meetings with his Jamaican counterpart, Senator the Hon. A.J. Nicholson.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Winston Dookeran, has assured that there is “absolutely” no profiling or targeting of Jamaicans by immigration officials in his country.
Speaking at a press conference held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, New Kingston, on December 3, Mr. Dookeran informed that 96 per cent of Jamaicans seeking admittance into Trinidad and Tobago last year, were given right of entry.
“In the last year, 56,324 Jamaican nationals sought entry into Trinidad and Tobago and of those, 54,362 were given right of entry – this amounts to 96 plus per cent,” the Minister said.
Mr. Dookeran’s declarations were made following a series of bilateral meetings with his Jamaican counterpart, Senator the Hon. A.J. Nicholson, stemming from a recent incident in which 13 Jamaicans were refused entry into the twin island republic.
The two-day meetings were conducted on the matters of free movement and free trade within the context of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).
“The issues must be discussed within a context of truth and fact. There appeared to be a perception that had developed, in light of the ruling of the immigration department recently, that there is some targeting and some profiling of Jamaican nationals,” Mr. Dookeran said.
“I want to say here categorically, based on my own investigations, that there is no truth to that. There is absolutely no profiling or targeting of Jamaicans in our immigration system,” he added.
Mr. Dookeran said what may have happened “was the natural order of the immigration process that applies to all.”
He noted that detailed figures on a month to month basis were brought to his attention and while there might have been a slight increase in the last two or three months, it does not reflect in any way that there is a position that Trinidad has taken towards Jamaicans on this matter.
The Minister also reiterated that the recent immigration issues between the two countries must be discussed and solved without the development of a trade war, alluding to threats from some quarters of a boycott of Trinidad and Tobago products.
“I would like to say to the Jamaican community that reprisals of any sort will harm both countries. We are at a very difficult period in our economic development, not only here in Jamaica, but throughout the Caribbean, and I’m well aware that any disruption may bring about further positions of difficulty for us,” Mr. Dookeran stated.
“At this stage, neither of our countries can afford to have a disruption of commercial activities, and it is in that context that a spillover, of what is clearly an emotive concept, could have that kind of effect if we are not able to contain it,” he added.
Meanwhile, Minister Nicholson noted that the issue at hand is not so much a problem of profiling of Jamaicans, but more an issue of respect.
“Respect is what this thing is all about. And whether it is at the Norman Manley (International) Airport or Piarco (International Airport), it is important that all immigration officials have respect for the dignity of every person who seeks to enter his or her country,” he emphasized.
“Whether there is profiling or not, we don’t know and that will never be strictly proven. The important thing though… is the question of training, bearing in mind that the foundation of all training and action is respect and once there is respect, there can be no allegation of profiling,” the Minister added.