Jamaican government refutes claims of ‘diplomatic row’ with US

July 19, 2023  -The Jamaican government has reported that there is no existing diplomatic row between Jamaica and the United States. Jamaica’s Foreign Minister Kamina Johnson Smith has denied the allegations after Radio Jamaica News reported diplomatic tension between both nations.

The allegations were reportedly tied to a request for diplomatic immunity for the spouse of a diplomat soon to be posted in Jamaica.

The diplomat is in a same-sex marriage.

Reports are that earlier this year, the United States government formally requested approval from the Jamaican government to extend diplomatic immunity and privileges to the married partner of a diplomat set to be posted in Jamaica.

Notably, the diplomat and their partner are in a same-sex relationship, an aspect that has added complexity to the situation since same-sex marriage is not recognized in Jamaica.

It was further reported that the Jamaican government did not respond promptly to the request from the U.S. The U.S. government was then believed to have denied a request from the Jamaican government to extend the stay of three of its diplomats.

Jamaica’s Foreign Minister clarifies diplomatic procedures and practices

In response to the allegations, Johnson Smith said that, in alignment with diplomatic practice and Jamaica’s Constitution, Jamaica extends privileges and immunities to incoming diplomats, their staff, and families, allowing them to reside in or visit the country.

She stressed that all requests presented to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are considered within that context.

This was further reiterated by Information Minister Robert Morgan, who cited Johnson Smith’s statement at a media briefing, highlighting that “Members of staff from both countries continue to reside and work in each other’s territory and are expected to observe the laws of host country.”

Morgan added that Johnson Smith emphasized Jamaica’s consistent compliance with procedures and defined term limits for the tenure of diplomats within the United States, maintaining its regular rotation practice.

Referring to Johnson Smith’s statement, Morgan said, “Heads of Jamaica and missions in the United States, whose tenure will come naturally to an end later this year, are already preparing for their transition.”

U.S. State Department’s stance on diplomatic tenure and relationship with Jamaica

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department has indicated that diplomats are expected to end their mission and leave the U.S. at the end of a five-year period unless a waiver is approved by the Department. This policy, however, does not apply to Ambassadors, Chargés d’affaires, and Deputy Chiefs of Mission.

The department assured that the United States and Jamaica continue to foster a close relationship based on shared values, trade, culture, tourism, and a dynamic diaspora community in the U.S.


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