Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 25, 2018 (SKNIS): A nation’s greatest resource is its people and as such, they should be treated accordingly. It was against this backdrop that Prime Minister Dr, the Honourable Timothy Harris, used the occasion of the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in London, England from April 16-20, to advocate for Caribbean nationals, in particular, Kittitians and Nevisians.
Dr. Harris said that CHOGM was “propitious in its timing” as it afforded him and other Caribbean leaders the opportunity to address a number of issues including the cruel treatment of Caribbean nationals who migrated to the United Kingdom in the 1940s, 50s, 60s and early 70s, a matter which foreshadowed the meeting of Commonwealth Heads.
“St Kitts and Nevis provided leadership respecting the resolution of the WINDRUSH generation immigration matter. Our UK High Commissioner, H. E. Dr. Kevin Isaac, has been at the forefront of galvanizing support for a presumption of legitimacy for those affected by the harsh United Kingdom immigration policy and law,” said the prime minister during a press conference on Wednesday, April 25. “My CARICOM colleagues and I secured an apology from UK Prime Minister, Theresa May. Our High Commission in London will remain engaged with the UK government to ensure a compassionate policy not only emerges but is being implemented.”
Prime Minister Harris said that since returning to the federation he has learned that a statement was released by the Home Office noting that all who were affected by the WINDRUSH issue, as well as their children “would be granted full citizenship and monetary compensation would be paid in cases where appropriate”.
Another issue discussed with UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May, was that of pensioners.
“I raised the long discriminatory practice of the British Government withholding increases in pension of persons who migrated back to our islands. It is a practice that pensioners residing in the UK would get an inflation adjustment to their pensions,” said Prime Minister Harris. “That “top up” intended to preserve the purchasing power of the pensioners has for a long time now been denied to the nationals returning to the Caribbean, St Kitts and Nevis and the OECS in particular. Indeed I am advised that Barbados and Jamaica stand alone in that their pensioners do in fact get this top up or inflation adjustment. This matter was raised in a meeting with our nationals and I promised that I would raise it.”
Dr. Harris noted that Prime Minister May promised to look into the matter. He gave clear directives to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kaye Bass, to follow up on the issue in an effort to be able to update returning nationals on the way forward.
“From all reports and from our own assessment St Kitts and Nevis demonstrated that our petite size was no constraint on our formidable capacity to lead,” he said, adding that it is interesting to note that the Commonwealth family is doing well. “The return of Zimbabwe to the fold further consolidates the family. Much work was accomplished and we hope that the Commonwealth will do a better job at leveraging its diversity and wealth. We hope too that the powerful positions of several of its members in international organizations such as G7 which Canada now leads, and the OECD would lead to greater advocacy and support to small states on a myriad of issues such as de-risking, correspondent banking, graduation on basis of per capita, disaster mitigation….”