By Machela Osagboro
CARICOM nationals who feel they have experienced discrimination at the hands of immigration officers are being urged to report it directly to the minister in charge.
Immigration Minister EP Chet Greene said yesterday in his budget debate that those who feel they have been mistreated should seek redress through the correct channels.
“Anytime you go to the immigration department and you confront or are confronted by any member of staff who treats you in that kind of fashion, be sure to take their name and report them to me.
“Not to the chief – to me!” he said.
According to the minister, the reports that he has been getting have been alarming, with some claiming they have been told to “go back to where they come from”.
Greene said discrimination against CARICOM nationals at the Antigua and Barbuda Department of Immigration would not be tolerated – and he threatened to deal harshly with any officers who indulge in such practice against people seeking services there.
He said it was imperative that officers have a professional image and better regard for customer service. “We demand nothing but superlative services to those who come to the department,” the minister said.
Greene went on to say that harsh measures would be brought against officers who think it is their duty is to, “berate and insult those persons who come to the department for services”.
In his impassioned speech, Greene vehemently stated that the nation’s laws are set out to protect those who are legally living and working withing the country, irrespective of where they are from or the colour of their skin.
Greene added that workers who cannot abide by customer service rules are unfit to be officers within the national security fabric and will not merely be re-assigned to serve in other areas of government but will be terminated.
“It won’t be a simple case of rotation to another department; it’s a case of stamping out that kind of ugly behaviour,” he vowed.