The Jamaican Minister of Foreign Affairs issued a press release Thursday stating he was ‘initiating urgent discussions with the Caymanian authorities in order to ensure that our nationals are not unfairly or indiscriminately treated.’
Minister K.D. Knight said he was concerned at what appeared to be an increasing number of Jamaicans who were denied entry into Cayman even before the imposition of the visa policy for Jamaicans on 1 November.
‘The Ministry notes that in some cases, Jamaicans who have settled in Cayman have been denied re-entry,’ the press release stated. ‘The Ministry is aware also of reports of questionable treatment being meted out to Jamaicans by the Caymanian authorities.’
Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said Friday he was aware of the allegations.
‘We’ve seen in the media and heard ourselves claims of discrimination.’
Mr. Tibbetts said the government was investigation the allegations.
‘We’re not going to tolerate discrimination,’ he said, adding that the new visa policy must be implemented ‘according to whatever the system calls for’.
Mr. Tibbetts said the new visa requirement for Jamaicans was not meant to be discriminatory.
‘This matter is nothing about Caymanians or Jamaicans,’ he said. ‘It’s a matter of border controls.’
With regard to some of technical aspects of the Immigration Law, Mr. Tibbetts said a non-citizen resident wishing to leave the country while awaiting a work permit renewal could go to the Immigration Department to get a re-entry stamp.
‘They cannot be denied by an Immigration Officer,’ he said.
However, the situation is different if a person had a work permit that expired with one company and they were applying with another company.
In that case, the person only has visitor’s status, and if that person was Jamaican, he or she would require a visa to re-enter Cayman before their work permit application was granted, Mr. Tibbetts said.
‘Someone on visitor’s status should not leave the island because they can only come back as a visitor,’ he said.
Mr. Tibbetts said the Cayman Islands Government was quite willing to discuss the matter with the Jamaican Government, and that it was waiting to hear back from the Minister of Foreign Affairs as to when he would want to open such dialogue.
‘The Ministry notes that in some cases, Jamaicans who have settled in Cayman have been denied re-entry. The Ministry is aware also of reports of questionable treatment being meted out to Jamaicans by the Caymanian authorities.’
– K.D. Knight, Jamaican Minister of Foreign Affairs