Barbadian Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart is expressing concern about the automatic six month stay for CARICOM nationals visiting Barbados saying that the policy could attract the unemployed and criminals to the island.
Under the CARICOM Free Movement Rights of Establishment, CARICOM nationals visiting member states would be entitled to an automatic six month stay upon their arrival.
The Barbadian Government which agreed to the policy a few years ago, appears to be raising more concerns about the policy in wake of the recent Caribbean Court of Justice ruling which issued a slap down in the way Barbadian authorities treat citizens of other member states.
According to the Barbados Nation Newspapers, the Prime Minister voiced concern about the implications of the Caribbean Court of Justice’s (CCJ) recent ruling, saying an automatic six-month stay for CARICOM nationals visiting Barbados would attract the unemployed and criminals. He made the remarks on Sunday night during a speech at a political event.
“However, he told Barbadians to respect the ruling in the Shanique Myrie case, saying Barbados was not “any banana, plantain or fig republic” but “a country governed by the rule of law”, the Nation report said.
According to the Nation News, Prime Minister Stuart also urged Customs, Immigration and police officers at the border not to interpret the court’s reference to “hassle-free” travel in CARICOM so loosely “that people can walk through the airport without anybody asking them anything” for fear of being sued.
The Barbadian Government has come under criticism for years for the way it treats many of the citizens of the region at its airport. Guyana has had to raise concerns several times. But it was a Jamaican woman with support from her Government who decided to take the case all the way to the Caribbean Court of Justice and she won.
The CCJ decision found that nationals of the Caribbean Community are legally entitled to enter and stay in each other’s countries for up to six months without restriction, unless deemed as “undesirable persons”. Border officials also cannot arbitrarily deem a Caricom national as “undesirable”.