Conflicting reports are emerging concerning last Friday night’s incident in which a Jamaican national who was denied entry into the country was able to simply walk away, leaving the authorities dumbfounded as to what transpired.
It was apparently not the first time he was refused entry to Trinidad and Tobago.
Making this development even more embarrassing for those whose responsibility it was to hold this person, the man disputes the report which said he had climbed through the ceiling at the airport’s holding bay.
The man is said to have found a means by which he was able to leave the holding bay, clear Customs and calmly walk out of the airport, leaving the precincts altogether. The Airports Authority is distancing itself from any responsibility in the matter, saying in a statement that it is the responsibility of the airline, when someone is denied entry to the country.
One source who provided some of the narrative over what transpired thought it necessary to point out that someone denied entry is not under arrest. “The process,” it was emphasised, “is that they are placed in a holding room, where security is expected to keep an eye on them.”
But exactly which security, this was not clarified. Further, we are told incredulously “the room is not under lock-down, it is not a prison, so that we keep them behind bars”.
Whatever the arrangements here, and whichever of the three entities involved, there is obviously a level of co-ordination which is at play among them in the operation of the system in which persons are denied entry. But something is exposed as having gone terribly wrong on the night in question. The co-ordination necessary for the safe-keeping of a person denied entry into the country broke down to our collective embarrassment. The passenger had time to fetch his luggage, join the line at Customs, be interviewed there, clear the area and go about his merry way, without being noticed.
And by the time the police were notified, the man had already cleared the precincts of the airport, such that more than 48 hours later, was still “at large,” so to speak.
It is to our eternal good fortune that this passenger was not someone who was armed and dangerous, and may have had ill-intentions on his mind in entering the country in the first place.
Why was the door at the holding bay left open and unguarded, someone must be made to answer. The Airports Authority cites existing “law” which it says establishes that persons denied entry are the preserve of Immigration and the airline involved.
Which entity has the ultimate responsibility for security at the airport? In the public’s mind it is the Airports Authority.
A thorough review of the established protocols now becomes urgent. In addition, the officer or officers found to have dropped the ball here, must be made to pay the ultimate price, whatever that is.