Prime Minister Andrew Holness has said that the government intended to accept the 43 Jamaicans aboard Marella Discovery II when the vessel arrived in Jamaican waters for refuelling on April 2.
He made the statement during a press conference at Jamaica House in St Andrew on Tuesday (April 14). Holness said the matter was brought to his attention on April 3 at which time, he stated that Jamaica will have to accept them.
‘…by the time the minister of national security could have conveyed the approval, the ship had already left our waters.’—PM Andrew Holness
“We were having a meeting of a sub-committee of Cabinet and immediately as it was brought to my attention… having reached the attention of the minister of national security we said, ‘Yes, we will have to take them because it is the logical thing to do’. They were close by but by the time the minister of national security could have conveyed the approval, the ship had already left our waters [and] on their way,” said Holness.
“I know a lot of people want to make much of it but the truth is that once the protocols are in place we expect that the persons who are obliged to follow the protocol they must follow the protocols and it is just quite an unfortunate situation that the ship left before the conveyance of the approval,” he added.
The vessel, which stopped to refuel 12 miles south of Port Royal, arrived on April 2 and departed on April 3 for the Dominican Republic, whose Government allowed its citizens to disembark despite its closed borders.
The ship then set sail for Portugal where a request to dock was reportedly denied on the weekend. The vessel is now headed to the UK.