Caribbean freedom of movement woes undermining CARICOM credibility – La Rocque
Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Irwin La Rocque, says problems related to the freedom of movement across the region have undermined the credibility of the regional body.
La Rocque, in an address at the University of Guyana’s graduation ceremony on the weekend acknowledged the difficulties facing Caribbean nationals.
“I am acutely aware of the difficulties still being experienced at ports of entry in some of our member states by those who seek to exercise their rights of free movement and to hassle-free travel…..all CARICOM nationals have the right to an automatic stay of six months, subject only to circumscribed exceptions….”
He said the problems are being addressed and “all the enabling structures in place, and see them fully, consistently and equitably enacted, enforced and implemented”.
He added that the region must remember the outcome of the case involving Jamaican Shanique Myrie and stated that the training of the relevant points of entry officials is continuing in order to minimize the difficulties.
La Rocque, also urged the graduating class of 2014 to remain committed to the region, noting that while there are opportunities beyond the Caribbean, it is now possible to “serve the wider world from right here in our community”, given the advances in technology.
In making reference to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that provides for the free movement of skilled CARICOM nationals, the Secretary General encouraged the graduates to apply for the CARICOM Skills certificate.
“Just remember that you are fortunate in another way as CARICOM nationals. Now that you are university graduates, you should apply for your CARICOM skills certificate in order to seek professional opportunities in any of the twelve countries currently participating in the CSME (Caribbean Single Market and Economy).”
Another matter of concern highlighted by the Secretary General was that of the admission of non-University of the West Indies (UWI) graduates to the law schools of the Council of Legal Education (CLE).
He said the limited spaces available for those who did not graduate from UWI “constrain the ambitions of many aspiring lawyers in the region, including LL.B graduates of UG (University of Guyana.”
“The Government of Guyana has brought this matter to the attention of the Conference of Heads of Government.”.
He said following talks between CARICOM and the CLE, 25 graduates from the University of Guyana will be accommodated in law schools, however this is not a permanent solution.
“This clearly shows it is not just a Guyana problem but it’s in fact a regional issue requiring a Community solution.”
The Secretary General said CARICOM Heads of Government have asked the CLE to look at all available options for a permanent way to facilitate equitable access to legal education in the region.
“It is my hope that the new intake of law students at this university, would have no difficulty in gaining access to regional Law schools by the time they end their tenure here,” he said.