Caribbean News Service (CNS)
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Sep 07 2016 – Prime Minister of Barbados, Freundel Stuart and Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness today discussed the state of bilateral relations between the two countries via telephone.
The discussions took place against the background of two recent incidents related to Jamaican travellers to Barbados and came a day after Prime Minister Stuart received the Letter of Introduction of the new non-resident High Commissioner of Jamaica to Barbados, His Excellency David Prendergast, at his Ilaro Court residence. The High Commissioner was accompanied by Honorary Consul, Mrs. Ella Hoyos.
Prime Minister Stuart told his counterpart that his call was intended to cement the need for the two countries to work more closely at the bilateral level over a range of issues, noting their close historical ties as founder members of CARICOM.
The Prime Minister of Jamaica agreed that there was a need to strengthen the bilateral relationship, particularly in light of the recent incidents involving two Jamaican nationals. He expressed his deep concern at the two reported incidents.
Prime Minister Stuart agreed that the reported incidents were unfortunate and that on becoming aware of the matters, he had immediately sought a full briefing on each of them.
He drew to the attention of his counterpart the fact that statistics regarding Jamaicans travelling to Barbados had shown that thousands of Jamaicans entered Barbados without any issues and that fewer than one per cent encountered problems.
He, however, did not condone any unwarranted challenge to Jamaicans, in his capacity as both Minister responsible for Immigration in Barbados and the lead spokesman in CARICOM for the CSME.
He assured his regional colleague that the matters would be fully investigated, and that if any impropriety on the part of Barbadian officials was found, the requisite sanctions would be applied.
Mr. Holness made mention of the Shanique Myrie case, in response to which Prime Minister Stuart noted that given its precedent-setting nature, it was natural that the Myrie case would be evoked, but that it was one unfortunate incident when compared with the thousands of Jamaicans who come to Barbados and enter uneventfully. He said that in the fullness of time he hoped to have a chance to address the Jamaican public on the issues.
Prime Minister Stuart also noted that challenges would occur from time to time in the Freedom of Movement initiative and stressed that it was early days yet in the execution of the guidelines in the CCJ Court Decision. According to him, the Revised Treaty “had set out the ideal but the Court had sought to put flesh on the dry bones of that ideal.”
He said that wherever challenges arose the Government of Barbados would, as should be the case with other CARICOM Governments, try to make sure that mistakes were corrected and not repeated.
In response to the intimation of Prime Minister Holness that the recent matters could end up before the CCJ, Prime Minister Stuart indicated that that was the right of the individuals which no one could deny.
He assured his Jamaican counterpart that his Government would give the fullest cooperation in ensuring that propriety obtains in the matters. He stressed that it was important that the recent issues be managed carefully and not be allowed to undermine the good relations between the two countries.
Prime Minister Stuart took the opportunity to congratulate Mr. Holness and the Jamaican people for that island’s excellent performance in the recent Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He asserted that Usain Bolt had written his name indelibly in gold on that occasion and congratulated Jamaica for showcasing the Caribbean to the world.
The two leaders agreed to keep the lines of communication open between the two countries, and to issue the respective statements on the matter later in the day.