Immigration officials must be sensitized to free movement provision
- CARICOM foreign ministers
Stabroek News
May 12, 2002

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Secretary-General Edwin Carrington was last week urged to use his good office to hold consultations regarding the free movement of CARICOM nationals within the region.

The matter was discussed at the meeting of the community's foreign ministers in St Lucia last Monday and Tuesday, and the delegates took note of the concerns expressed regarding the imposition of travel restrictions on CARICOM nationals within the community, a communique from the Georgetown office of the CARICOM Secretariat stated. "The ministers recalled the provisions of the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which relates to the free movement of CARICOM nationals in the region, and agreed that this treaty provision should be drawn to the attention of regional immigration officials."

Carrington was also asked to take steps to pre-empt, through dialogue, the possibility of similar action by member states or associate member states. These discussions come in the wake of the Anguillan government requiring Guyanese and Jamaicans to obtain visas to travel to that island.

Guyana's initial reaction to the imposition was that the visa requirements apply as a matter of reciprocity. Foreign Minister Rudy Insanally further stated that countries had a right to protect their sovereignty.

Anguilla's Chief Minister, Osborne Flemming, had told Stabroek News that the decision was taken after the September 11, terrorist attack on the United States, since the island's economy could not sustain jobs in the tourist industry afterwards. According to him, Guyanese and Jamaicans have been seeking jobs and permanency in Anguilla over the past five years, a situation the island's economy, infrastructure and services could not sustain.

At this week's meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR), the ministers also discussed the issue of governance and connected concepts, which are often advocated in the global arena. The team observed that the international community was often guilty of double standards in the manner in which the principles of good governance were applied in making judgments on the situation in individual states. They also expressed concern that the reputation enjoyed by the community as a bastion of democracy and good governance was in danger of being eroded. However, the ministers strongly reiterated the community's commitment to democracy and good governance.

The Sixth Meeting of the COFCOR will take place in St Vincent and the Grenadines from May 8 - 9, 2003.