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Jamaica removes visa requirement for some Haitians

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer writer
editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

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ROSE HALL, St James — Cabinet has approved a protocol that will remove visa requirements for Haitianstravelling to Jamaica forbona fidebusiness purposesand who are holders of a valid visa issued by Canada, the United Kingdom (UK), the United States of America (US), or a State of the Schengen area.

“The most recent thing that has been done by Cabinet is an approval of theremoval of restrictionsthat were in place. With the Cabinet decision, if you are a Haitian businessperson travelling with a US, Schengen or Canadian visa, and we have added UK visa, you will not require an additional visa to enter Jamaica,” Senator Kamina Johnson Smith said. “Cabinet has recently approved the process to ensure that it is implemented.”

The minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade added that, “apparently it was inconsistently applied, and this is in fact because of a Caricom (Caribbean Community) heads decision that was taken previously with the agreement of Haiti-recognising their infrastructural weakness at the time, and therefore needed to be phased in to allow that where a particular vetting process had already taken place that Jamaica recognised, through our own international arrangements, that we in turn recognise those”.

Johnson Smith was speaking to journalists in St James last Saturday following a bilateral meeting and declaration of intent for collaboration in sports between Jamaica and Chile. The bilateral meeting was held at Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort and Spa in St James.

In the meantime, Prime Minister Andrew Holness explained: “If the Haitian citizen has already [been] vetted [for a] US visa, UK, Schengen visa, and Canadian [visa], I believe as well, which we already acknowledge, then they can come to Jamaica.”

Holness also spoke about the rights of countries being observed.

“So in the same way that we would want our rights to be observed with other countries, it is the same way that other country would want us to observe their right as part of the integration process. But with rights come responsibilities, so the rights are not unbounded. It comes with the understanding that the countries who are participating will put in place the mechanism to ensure that the rights can be realised without infringement of other people's rights,” Holness said.

The prime minister further noted: “Freedom of movement of people in the region doesn't mean that criminals are also free to move. It doesn't mean that people who would become a burden on the public purse would be free to move, or persons with health issues would be free to move. So, there has to be systems put in place to track, detect and give advance warning.”

Johnson Smith and Holness were responding to a question raised by the press in relation to a recent decision taken by Barbados to remove visa requirements for Haitians and if Jamaica would be making a similar move.

“My Cabinet has agreed to remove the visa requirements for Haiti because, in our view, it breaches the fundamental tenets that bind us under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas,” said Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley to loud applause at the recently concluded 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of Caricom, at Montego Bay Convention Centre.

Addressing the same Caricom meeting last week, president of Haiti Jovenel Moise used the opening ceremony to publicly thank the Government of Barbados for its decision to lift all obstacles to the free movement of Haitians in its territory, in accordance with the provisions of Articles 45 and 46 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

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