Sunday 8 December, 2019

Jamaica: Trinidad MP not searched by Jamaican immigration

Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamina Johnson Smith said the Jamaican government is taking the matter seriously even as it awaits a formal letter from their counterparts in the twin-island republic.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamina Johnson Smith said the Jamaican government is taking the matter seriously even as it awaits a formal letter from their counterparts in the twin-island republic.

Jamaica's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has today confirmed that neither Jamaican Immigration nor Customs officials conducted a search on a Trinidadian Minister of Government at the Norman Manley International Airport.

This follows media reports of an incident in which Ayanna Webster-Roy, Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago was searched, immediately prior to boarding an international flight on Friday, June 2, 2017.

The reports allege that the search was conducted by Jamaican immigration authorities notwithstanding their having been aware of the minister’s official status.

A search of the Trinidadian minister was however conducted by a private security company retained by the airline on which Webster-Roy and her delegation were travelling, Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamina Johnson Smith explained.

Such searched are generally undertaken by the airline under international conventions, and are based on random computer selection for additional security screening.

“While we regret the minister’s distress, our enquiries so far reveal that Diplomats and Ministers of other countries, as well as current and former Ministers of Jamaica, across political administrations, have in fact undergone this additional screening process, notwithstanding their status,” Johnson Smith added.

Nonetheless, the minister said the Jamaican government is taking the matter seriously even as it awaits a formal letter from their counterparts in the twin-island republic.

“We are making further enquiries regarding the legal framework supporting such searches, as well as the specific circumstances of Friday’s incident.  We will write to the airline to make a formal request in this regard.”

Johnson Smith assured the public that the Jamaican Government wants all visitors to Jamaica, including colleague dignitaries from foreign and CARICOM countries, to be comfortable in their travel to and from Jamaica, notwithstanding any security protocols. 

She also stated that it was important to highlight that even at this stage of enquiries, it was quite clear that the search was in no way related to the issue of free movement under the CSME, nor was it related to the minister’s nationality. 

In the meantime, Johnson Smith conveyed her personal empathy Webster-Roy for any distress caused by the airline’s security screening process.

Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: