KINGSTON – In a direct breach of the Revised Treaty Of Chaguaramas, and a snub of a recent ruling by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Trinidadian immigration officers denied 13 Jamaicans entry into that country on Tuesday night, detained them
and sent them back home on the first flight
The Jamaicans were angry when the Jamaica Observer spoke to them immediately after they were processed by immigration officials at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston yesterday afternoon.
They said that their passports were confiscated by the Trinidadians and they were ordered to sit on a wooden bench throughout the night before they were rudely bundled on a Caribbean Airlines flight on which the majority of the Reggae Boyz football team were being flown home after their friendly match at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Among those turned away from her fellow Caribbean Community (Caricom) state was Anne Gordon, who was given the task of chaperoning an 11-year-old girl to see her father who resides in that country with his Trinidadian wife. However, both Gordon and the girl were denied entry, despite carrying Caricom passports.
“She cried all night. They just took our passports and told us we did not meet their entry requirements. If her father lives there why did they refuse the child the chance to see her father?” Gordon questioned.
The child was picture of dejection. “I don’t see my father since last year,” she said.
In a recent ruling in the landmark case involving Shanique Myrie against the Barbadian Government, the CCJ ruled that where a Caricom national is refused entry into a member state, that national should be given the opportunity to consult an attorney or a consular official of his or her country, or to contact a family member.
The Jamaicans said that they were not allowed to contact anybody nor were they even allowed to use their cellular phones to contact the persons who were waiting outside the Piarco Airport to receive them. They also claimed they were threatened that their phones would be seized if they attempted to use them.
“When I gave them the number of my sister-in-law, the woman [immigration officer] pretended to make a call and then told me that it was a man on the other end. While she did that I called my sister-in-law, who had invited me to visit her, and got her. I tried to give the immigration officer the phone but she said she was not talking to anyone,” Onicia Robinson, one of the Jamaicans denied entry to Trinidad, said.
When the Observer contacted Robinson’s sister-in-law, Gillian Leben, she confirmed that she was not contacted by any immigration official in regards to her receiving Robinson. “I was outside the airport with a taxi to pick her up until 4:00 this morning [yesterday] and my phone did not ring. No one contacted me,” Leben said.
The CCJ had also ruled that member states should give, promptly and in writing, reasons for refusing entry to Caricom nationals. The receiving state is also obliged to inform the refused national of his or her right to challenge the decision.
The Jamaicans claimed that this was not done, saying that they were threatened to sign a refusal of entry form or spend the night in jail. (Jamaica Observer)