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Barbados, Guyana to craft immigration protocol

Barbados’ Foreign Minister, Maxine Mc Lean (left) and the Foreign Minister of Guyana, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett at a news conference after the 2nd Joint Commission meeting of their countries

Guyana and Barbados on Friday agreed to craft a protocol to handle immigration concerns, even as the two countries pointed out that fewer Guyanese are being barred from entering that Caribbean island.

The announcement was made by Guyana’s Foreign Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and her Barbados counterpart Maxine Mc Lean at the close of the 2nd session of the Joint Commission.

“We have agreed, as ministers, that an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) would be concluded to cover the various modalities which cover the relationship between our two countries as it relates to immigration,” Mc Lean told reporters.

The Guyanese Foreign Minister explained that the MOU would lay down procedures for dealing with reports of travellers experiencing difficulty at each other’s ports of entry even if they do not fall within the bracket of CARICOM”s Skilled Nationals regime. What is different is that you have a report that comes to you- what do you do next?- …This MOU would cater for anybody, not just skilled nationals and that’s the major difference here,” she said.

Using statistics to prove her point, the Barbadian Foreign Minister accused the media of blowing occurrences of mistreatment of Guyanese including prevention from entry out of proportion.

YEAR

Number of Guyanese Arrivals

Number of Guyanese Refused

2008

31,276

610

2009

23,409

269

2010

19,432  

303

2011

24,543

365

2012

21,358

163

“There has been and will continue to be the very easy flow of persons between our countries…and therefore I would just put into bed the notion that we somehow have had difficulties in the past,” she said.

Mc Lean said the figures show that it was pretty normal for such a small percentage of persons of other nationalities to be refused entry. Reasons include previously deported persons using false passports and overstaying on more than one occasion.

Foreign Minister Rodrigues-Birkett said that her ministry has not received reports from Guyanese in the past two years that they had been “unjustifiably refused entry which in the past used to be the norm.”

Guyanese had several years complained of being locked up or put on a designated “bench” at the Grantley Adams International Airport pending their return on the next available flight.

The Guyanese Foreign Minister urged her country-folk to abide by the laws of other countries. At the same time, she vowed not to stay silent if the rights of Guyanese are violated in other countries.

Mc Lean noted that a significant number of Guyanese had travelled to Barbados between 2005 and 2007 during a construction boom associated with Cricket World Cup. But since then, there has been a decline seemingly associated with a construction boom here. “Since I have been coming here from 2008 to now, there has been a lot of construction which suggests to me that job opportunities at home have opened up in numbers which would probably justify a person staying at home or not requiring a person to look outside of Guyana,” said the Barbadian Foreign Minister.