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Our countrymen are being targeted at Piarco

Jamaican radio host:

By Joel Julien joel.julien@trinidadexpress.com

JAMAICANS are being “targeted and profiled” by Immigration and Customs officials when they enter Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaican radio host and comedian Christopher “Johnny” Daley has claimed.

T&T airport officials seem to personally enjoy dragging Jamaicans “through the mud”, Daley claimed.

Daley made the statements during a post on social networking site Facebook after allegedly suffering ill treatment at the hands of Immigration and Customs officials after entering Trinidad earlier this week. He described the ordeal as his “worst travel experience”.

This is the latest tale in the ongoing conflict between Trinidad and Tobago airport officials following the deportation of 13 Jamaican nationals from this country last November.

The situation caused outrage among Jamaicans and resulted in a call for a ban on products made in T&T.

In an attempt to quell the situation, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar sent Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran to Jamaica to hold diplomatic discussions with his Jamaican counterpart, Arnold J Nicholson.

In addition to that situation, the Express also highlighted the difficulties faced by a Jamaican national, Tamika Williams, who had her passport seized by Immigration officials after running afoul of the law. Williams left this country of her own free will on December 31. She had her passport returned.

Now comes the latest in the saga.

Daley, the host of the programme, Johnny Live, which airs on Suncity Radio 104.9 FM in Jamaica, took to Facebook to air his grievances about alleged mistreatment from T&T officials.

It took place at Piarco International Airport.

“I had my worst travel experience entering the twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago last night (Tuesday) and I’m sorry to say it but Jamaicans are Targeted and Profiled because it happened to me and my wife,” Daley began.

“AJ Nicholson, Mr Minister of Foreign Affairs, there is much work to be done,” he stated.

Daley claimed he and his wife “were suspects the minute” they approached Immigration officials.

Daley stated before their passports were scanned, the Immigration officer “took up a phone and called someone to indicate that she felt suspicious”.

After a 15-minute wait, Daley said he and his wife had their passports returned and were allowed to proceed. “If the checks had ended there this note would not be written but as soon as we got to our bags and entered the Customs line it was clear that the Customs enforcement team that was waiting was prepped to look out for the suspects aka Jamaican criminals.”

Daley said despite there being several scanning machines, he and his wife were “searched by hand”.

“We were the only ones being searched by hand. While searching our luggage I was asked to break open one of the patties we took for our hosts, she then broke several pieces of the ginger we were asked to take and squeezed the hard dough bread so hard that it lost its shape.”

Daley said after being searched and questioned nothing was found.

“She seemed quite disappointed, annoyed even, that she found nothing alarming in our luggage and then she did the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever experienced,” Daley stated.

“She asked if I was wearing two trousers (remember I live in the tropics), to which my response was an obvious no... without hesitation she instructed me to go to a room with two thug-looking men, when I enquired why she said to ensure I had nothing on my person. I shook my head and reluctantly entered the tiny room. One thug stood at the door, the other asked me to lift my shirt up. I did since I had my undershirt on. He gave me a pat down, searched the seem (sic) of my pants and then told me to step out. (This has never happen before in all my years of travelling. Even to the Great United States, a country that is constantly having to protect its borders from terrorists,” Daley stated.

“It was humiliating. AJ Nicholson there was no respect shown to me and my wife. The Trinidad Airport Authority personnel seem to personally enjoy dragging us through the mud of their system,” he stated.

Daley said he barely made it in time for the connecting flight to ANR Robinson International Airport in Tobago, where he is currently vacationing.

Daley said he also faced problems with his luggage.

“Fortunately our hosts in Tobago could drop a few names and it was later delivered,” he stated.

Daley warned his fellow countrymen to be careful when travelling to Trinidad and Tobago.

“My fellow Jamaicans, please have all your ducks in a row and your T’s crossed if you need to travel to Trinidad and Tobago because we are being targeted no doubt. They had no good reason to treat my wife and I the way they did so I can only assume it’s our nationality that was the issue...,” Daley stated.

The report was yesterday featured in several regional news agencies.

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