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CARICOM Foreign Ministers to discuss implications of major global issues

Featured CARICOM Foreign Ministers to discuss implications of major global issues
KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, May 16, 2016 - The Region’s Foreign Ministers gather in St. Vincent and the Grenadines this morning for the Nineteenth Meeting of CARICOM’s Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR).

The two-day meeting will, among other things, examine the implications for the Caribbean Community of several emerging issues including the reshaping of the United States relations with Cuba and the pending British referendum on European Union membership.

As the Community seeks to reinforce relations with multilateral organisations, COFCOR will also discuss matters regarding the United Nations, the Organisation of American States, The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS).

Within the packed agenda, COFCOR will also seek to forge and strengthen ties with Third States including Brazil, Sweden, Japan, and The Netherlands on issues of mutual interests.

Following on the heels of last week’s Ninth UK-Caribbean Forum in The Bahamas, CARICOM Foreign Ministers will devote part of their meeting to discussing the critical elements emanating from that engagement. The Meeting will also discuss border issues, and a range of bilateral topics involving Mexico, Cuba and the Nordic States, and the Unites States.

It is expected that in the margins of the meeting, Jamaica's Foreign Minister Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith and her Trinidadian counterpart Senator David Moses, will hold further discussions regarding the treatment of Jamaican nationals in Trinidad and Tobago.

Relations between Jamaica and T&T have been strained for some time, due to repeated complaints from Jamaicans that they have been denied entry to Port-of-Spain, despite having met all qualifications required under the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. The treaty stipulates that no Caricom national should be turned away from another CARICOM state unless the traveller is considered undesirable or posing a burden on the receiving state.

Senator Johnson-Smith in a statement last week, said was able to meet with the T&T Foreign Minister "in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) Meeting in New York, based on which, he  has now committed to retrofitting an appropriate area within the Piarco Airport by July of this year, to ensure they are able to more effectively treat with Jamaicans, and all (CARICOM) nationals as a matter of fact, who use the Piarco Airport and who are denied entry.”

Senator Johnson Smith said, on the issue of the treatment of Jamaican nationals in Trinidad, Senator Moses has also committed that in June of this year his Government will commence customer service training for immigration officials, as well as people such as security officials who must interact with visitors who are denied entry.

In the meantime, Opposition spokesman on foreign affairs and foreign trade, Dr Morais Guy, said there have been repeated calls for the ‘re-culturalisation’ of the twin-island republic’s immigration officers in terms of how they treat CARICOM nationals.

He said Jamaican nationals was second only to Guyanese citizens in terms of bad treatment and denial of entry at Piarco, “and there is a view that Trinidad had to train their immigration officers to improve their treatment of persons from other Caricom countries”.

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