The Mirage of integration (iii)
Sun, 04/24/2016 - 12:00am Barbados1
Trade – Britain’s links with the EU are holding back its focus on emerging markets…Leaving would allow the UK to diversify its international links…
Immigration – Britain can never control immigration until it leaves the EU, because freedom of movement gives other EU citizens an automatic right to live here…
Law – Too many of Britain’s laws are made overseas by dictates passed down by Brussels and rulings upheld by the European Court of Justice. UK courts must become sovereign again…
The Daily Telegraph –The key arguments… against staying in the EU – April 15, 2016
It ought not be thought that any culpability for the seeming reluctance in the region for a closer integration should be ascribed to the political directorate only as opposed to the people themselves. Mr (as he then was) Errol Barrow’s famous assertion that “…if we (the leaders) have failed to comprehend the essence of the regional integration movement, the truth is that thousands of ordinary Caribbean people do, in fact, live that reality everyday…” might have been overtaken by subsequent developments that have served to diminish severely the incidence of that lived reality.
So that while Mr Andrew Holness’s 2013 statement as Opposition Leader in the Jamaican Parliament that Jamaica should consider suspending its relationship with CARICOM on the ground that “Jamaica’s interests were not necessarily being fully served by CARICOM” may be regarded as symptomatic of the former, the reaction of some individual commentators on this extended essay (that they have clearly misunderstood as a cheerleader for integration as opposed to an objective analysis of its current status) would suggest that it may not now be as popular or as lived among CARICOM nationals as Mr Barrow assumed it was in 1986.
Indeed, one submission went so far as to belittle the importance of the three major examples of regional unity; predicting the imminent demise of UWI, suggesting the mostly compelled existence of the cricket team and proclaiming the inutility of CARICOM itself.
But no development appears to have rankled some regional nationals [and not all ordinary citizens] more than the Caribbean Court of Justice’s (CCJ) observations on the rights of CARICOM nationals on arrival in another regional jurisdiction and, especially, the constraints on a refusal to permit them further access into the host jurisdiction.
As may be recalled, these dicta were uttered in its October 2013 judgement in the case of Shanique Myrie v Barbados. There, their Lordships, principally on the basis of Article 45 of the Revised Treaty (RTC) and a 2007 Heads of Government Conference Decision, determined that a CARICOM national was prima facie entitled to be granted an automatic six months stay upon arrival into a host regional jurisdiction.
It should be noted that this decision was not met with immediate popular acclaim. Some, in vain, questioned the CCJ’s finding of the facts, although this was exclusively within its jurisdiction. Others suggested that the decision was an instance of judicial activism intended to bolster regional integration, Few, however, disputed the legal foundation of the decision which would have been equally useless, given that there can be no appeal from its judgement.
And it was not that the Court held that this right to freedom of movement was absolute. The CCJ did indicate that the host jurisdiction retained its rights to deny entry to individuals on the bases of undesirability –posing a substantial threat to public morals, national security and national health; and their liability to becoming a charge on public funds – possessing insufficient means or having likely access to sufficient funs to support themselves for the requisite period.
Neither of these substantive grounds infringes the sovereignty of the State to determine who should be permitted entry and, to the extent that they may, any blame should lie squarely with the head(s) of government who acceded to the relevant instruments, rather than the Court that was simply interpreting the clear purport of the 2007 Agreement and the signed undertaking in Article 45 of the RTC.
However, there appears to be a populist notion in the region that sovereignty, especially over border security, cannot be diluted even by voluntary state agreement and therefore, while the
substantive limitations might have been grudgingly accepted, the procedural requirements on their exercise seem to have proven distasteful.
First, according to the ruling, the state official should inform the refused entrant in writing “not only of the reasons for the refusal but also of his or her right to challenge that decision”. Second, the Court noted, it would also be reasonable to allow refused visitors to consult an opportunity to consult an attorney or a consular official of their country or, in any event, to contact a family member.
“Nah…at all”, one can almost hear the anguished cry of some, “too much trouble in that. How dare anyone tell us who should trespass on our borders and how?”
It is this same sentiment that may have fuelled the current constitutional litigation in the US against President Obama’s plan to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation and to allow them to work in the country legally under his Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents programme [DAPA]; that might be one of the reasons for Britain’s desire to exit the European Union; that might account for the phenomenal popularity of Donald Trump among Republicans; and that may explain the recent alleged treatment of a number of Jamaican nationals in Trinidad & Tobago. It clearly did not inform the Pope’s recent treatment of the Syrian refugees in Lesbos.
In the present context, the time may have come for a referendum on the future of CARICOM. I am fully aware that this call amounts nearly to heresy for some and I sincerely wish that it did not have to come to this. However, my cynical instincts tell me that despite its successes, regional integration, as foreseen by the founding fathers over five decades ago, has now been so substantially altered as a felt imperative as to warrant a popular plebiscite on its continued existence in its present form. The sentiments in the epigraph may not be far removed from a sizeable body of regional opinion. So unless we can have some soonest recommitment to the process, a renaissance of regionalism if you wish, then I fear we will continue merely to talk the talk. And this from an unrepentant regionalist.