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COMMENTARY – The recent arrest of 14 women at a local strip club is an indication that the OECS member States have yet to fully implement the free movement of citizens within their individual societies.
The non-national women who originated from various OECS and CARICOM countries were arrested on May 2nd, 2016 for violating work permit regulations. With the freedom of movement between OECS states, it has drawn public scrutiny as to whether the rights of these women were violated since work permit have been waived for nationals of member states.
In 2014, Saint Lucia informed their citizens and OECS member states that `The OECS Commission says the new arrangements for Citizens of the OECS Economic Union travelling to Saint Lucia relate to Article 12 entitled the “Movement of Persons” as guided by the Protocol of the OECS Economic Union.’
The OECS Commission adds that citizens of Member States of the OECS Economic Union who travel to Saint Lucia will also be able to drive without a driver’s permit once they are in possession of a valid driver’s license with photo identification and the nationality of their respective OECS Member State highlighted.
Regarding this new arrangement, the OECS Commission has also stated that citizens of the OECS Economic Union seeking employment in Saint Lucia will no longer require a work permit once they receive the stamp for indefinite stay.
It is mandatory that the authorities responsible should move quickly to address this growing human right violation where nationals from various OECS countries are being arrested under laws that no longer reflect updated policies and treaties including the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.