Jackson flays Gov’t's response to J'cans in distress offshore, abroad
The People’s National Party (PNP) Shadow Minister of National Security, Fitz Jackson, has said no Jamaican citizen should be abandoned by their own country of origin, especially in a time of global uncertainty.
Jackson said the denial of entry to 45 Jamaicans into the island with no alternative provisions for their well-being in a time of grave uncertainty, is inhumane and draconian.
In a media release on Sunday, Jackson said “Irrespective of the powers granted under the Disaster Emergency Act, every Jamaican has the right of entry into the island, and this right should not be arbitrarily denied to anyone without an appropriate plan of action for their protection.”
In elaborating, he said “The Government failed to protect our citizens who are aboard the Marella Discovery 2 now heading to a foreign port that has no constitutional obligation to our citizens. The country needs to be told what arrangements have been put in place to ensure their safety.”
Jackson cited that a group of Jamaicans aboard the Marella Discovery 2 is now heading to Portugal after they were denied entry to the island while the vessel was anchored in Kingston. He said according to information available to the Opposition, the vessel was refuelled in Kingston last Thursday while a request was made to have the Jamaicans disembark, but the Government did not respond in time, and the vessel left a day later after receiving no word from the Government.
Jackson said the Government needs to establish appropriate guidelines to inform how Jamaican nationals who are outside of the mainland should be treated amid the fight against the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
“There needs to be a holistic approach to this matter, one that is not ad hoc, and one that is consistently applied across the board,” said Jackson.
He said citizens of the country should not have to be begging to enter their own country, or be wondering if they will be left abandoned by their Government amid their distress.
The shadow minister has called on the Government to clearly instruct the overseas missions, with the help of the Jamaican Diaspora, to put in place safe houses for stranded Jamaicans in the interim, while the borders to the island are closed.
He said the way forward needs to be properly established and publicised so families can be assured that some level of protection is available to their loved ones.
Jackson said the recent action of the Government added to a troubling trend in which Jamaican citizens are abandoned on foreign soil without assistance, as was the experience with fishermen who were left to the whim and fancy of others; students in China who made their appeal on social media for assistance in returning home; and hotel workers who arrived in-transit into Barbados, but were abandoned at the Grantley Adams International Airport.
“Government must act in a responsible and effective way to manage the crisis while fulfilling the obligations to all Jamaicans, not just some,” said Jackson.