Entry ban fallout

Bernard Campbell was not allowed to enter the country because the PNM was afraid that he would successfully help the UNC coalition win the election on May 24.

It is clear to us that if there was a valid reason to ban Mr Campbell as “an undesirable” the government would surely have trumpeted this. We would have been told all the defects in his character which could have led to the Government or the PNM (these days it is difficult to tell the difference) instituting the ban. In fact a confident PNM would have used platform picong to dismiss his presence. In the same way that they scoffed at the need for several parties to come together to beat the “mighty PNM” they could have said “All you want to govern the country and you have to hire outside help to fight the election!”

We have to ask, first and foremost, what was the thought process, if any, behind the refusal to allow Bernard Campbell to enter the country last week? Obviously a decision was taken, although at first everyone in government was “breaksin” from any responsibility, or even knowledge of the event. Clearly someone in authority had instructed — first the airlines, and then the Immigration at Piarco — that Bernard Campbell should neither be allowed to board an aircraft bound for, nor be allowed to enter, Trinidad and Tobago (TT).

These directives are not issued by computers or prophetesses. Someone had to give the instruction to prevent Mr Campbell from entering the country. And this was not as some are suggesting, anything to do with “deportation”. Mr Campbell was never allowed to “enter” TT, although he was kept here overnight. He was banned from entering the country, pure and simple, and no reason has been given for this. Quoting archaic British Colonial Law listing the reasons why a person may be denied entry into the country (colony?) is not an acceptable reason for the ban. Was Mr Campbell deemed an “alcoholic”, “imbecile”, or was he “ill,” — as listed in the law quoted? Is it the lack of a work permit?

But no explanation has been given, neither to the people of Trinidad and Tobago, nor to the United States government. The Minister of National Security, whom we must presume ordered the ban, although he has not clearly admitted this, stated that he does not have to explain the decision or the ban to anyone.

That we were not, and that government is refusing to tell us, raises serious questions about the “decision trail” which led to the action.

First, we need to remember that all of this would have taken place under the direction of the Minister of National Security. Then, and very importantly, we must remember that the Minister of National Security, Mr Martin Joseph, is also the PNM Party General Secretary. And we must all wonder, in the face of the refusal by Martin Joseph to clarify, whether the banning was a government or party decision? Did cabinet discuss this, and if so, when? Who brought the matter to Joseph’s attention, and when? With whom did Joseph consult, if anyone, prior to issuing the banning order? If Mr Campbell was a threat to Trinidad and Tobago, there ought to be at least one Memo or Minute describing the threat. Indeed, should we be shown such a document, we may even be able to support the banning decision.

But we expect none. And simply because we believe none exists. We believe that this was a strictly PNM decision, where they used their position in government to perpetrate an injustice upon a visitor from a friendly country.

We see this whole incident as a huge net loss of credibility for the PNM. Too bad TT had to suffer the embarrassment of the issue.

Note: Late last evening the Ministry of National Security issued a statement that Government has rescinded the ban on Mr Campbell and that he would be allowed to return to Trinidad. (See Page 3)


"Entry ban fallout"

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