Jamaican Consulates need better management - Bartlett

Following several recent incidents overseas, in particular in Trinidad and Tobago and the Bahamas, Opposition Spokesman on Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Edmund Bartlett is expressing concern about the priorities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in the protection and support of our nationals overseas.

Mr. Bartlett says “The welfare of Jamaicans overseas is clearly not being managed effectively”. He continued, “In the case of Trinidad and Tobago, an inordinate number Jamaicans continue to be denied entry without any clear evidence that denial is justified, and of even greater concern, is evidence of ill-treatment during their period of detention”. He added, “It is also alarming to see children being rounded up by the Bahamian authorities, even if they were born in the Bahamas, and being held in adult detention facilities on the grounds that they are the offspring of illegal Jamaican immigrants.  Based on reports, those facilities fall below the standard of basic human rights and the preservation of the dignity of both the children and the adults”.

He asserts, “The government has a duty to act and to inform the public, yet they have not provided any information from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade on these developments and the course of action taken or to be taken to address the concerns”. He went on to question whether the government had forgotten about the revised treaty of Chaguaramas and the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations that speaks to the safeguarding the interests of minors.

Mr. Bartlett noted, “While the Ministry unapologetically spends $1.1 million on the Junior Minister's phone bills, the MFAFT has done nothing to give any confidence that meaningful action is being taken on these issues related to the well being of our Jamaican citizens overseas."  He asked "What are this Ministry's priorities? There is no way unjustified mobile phone charges can be pitted against the resources required to provide consular services to our citizens”. He concluded, “The Government of Jamaica has fallen short of its responsibility to look after the welfare of its citizens abroad and has failed miserably to inform Jamaicans at home about these issues”.