PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (CMC) — Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has called for an end to the discrimination being shown to Haitian nationals by some Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries as the French-speaking country announced that at the end of this month, nationals will be able to travel through the region much easier.
Stuart, speaking at the end of the 29th Caricom Inter-Sessional summit here, said Barbados is concerned that Haitian citizens have to obtain visas in order to travel to a number of Caricom member states.
“Barbados has always thought that this was a little inequitable and discriminatory. Therefore, we were able to provoke an energetic discussion among regional leaders and I think the way forward seems much clearer now.
“The Legal Affairs Committee is being commissioned to look at all the issues surrounding Haiti’s membership and to advise the [Heads of Government] Conference for July as to whether there is any legal basis for denying Haitians rights, which all other Caricom members enjoy,” he said.
Stuart said that that this requirement was an anomaly in Caricom arrangements. He noted that Haiti had the largest population of all Caricom members, yet its citizens were being forced to obtain visas to enter most regional countries in circumstances
“Where other Caricom English-speaking members do not have to satisfy that requirement,” he said.
Haitian President Jovenel Moise, who is the current Caricom chairman, said that as of March 30, this year, Haitians holding an official and diplomatic passport or holding a United States, Canadian or Schengen (European Union) visa will be able to move freely in all Caricom member countries.
But he said this decision is made pending “that all steps be taken in the future to allow the free movement of people and goods throughout the Caribbean…”.
Haiti is a member of the Caricom Single Market and Economy that allows for the free movement of goods, skills, services, and labour across the community.