His Excellency Deryck Lance Murray was the Trinidad and Tobago High Commissioner to Jamaica (2019-2023). Murray captained the Trinidad and Tobago cricket team from 1976 until 1981, twice winning the World Cup.

Interview by Eve Hayes de Kalaf

Institute of Historical Research, University of London

Imagining what somebody may have got stamped in their passport or not in 1948. Where is that passport? It would have been renewed umpteen times since then. So, you can see where a lot of things would not be in place. It seemed to be rather harsh. Particularly, you know, the concept of, “Yes, I may be Jamaican, or I may be Antiguan or something,” but having lived and been part of Britain and thinking of yourself as British. To suddenly think, well, you really belong in Jamaica…It really seemed to be harsh treatment without some collaboration in finding out the different parts of the history of someone’s stay and life in Britain at the time.

His Excellency Mr Deryck Murray

Former Trinidad and Tobago High Commissioner to Jamaica (2019-2023)

Deryck Murray Interview Transcript

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DERYCK MURRAY INTERVIEW

Transcript by Destinie Reynolds

Key:
EHdK: Dr Eve Hayes de Kalaf (Interviewer)
DM: His Excellency Deryck Lance Murray (Respondent)

Date/Location:
16th September 2022. Trinidad and Tobago High Commission, Kingston, Jamaica.

EHdK 00:01 I’m here with Deryck Murray who is currently the High Commissioner for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to Jamaica. Firstly, thank you so much for agreeing to speak with me today.

DM 00:15 Thank you, Dr Hayes. I am looking forward to this so thank you.

EHdK 00:18 This is really an opportunity for us to learn a little bit about you not just in your role as High Commissioner. I understand that you’ve also worked as a diplomat, and you’ve worked in the Foreign Service. You’ve been a representative to the UN and, as many of our listeners will know, you’re also the former West Indies Cricket Vice-Captain. Is that correct? Could you talk us through a little bit about you and maybe give a bit of background about Trinidad and Tobago for the people who are listening?

DM 00:58 I suppose we could go back. Trinidad and Tobago is now celebrating its 60th anniversary of independence and we are also a republic within the Commonwealth. The history of Trinidad and Tobago goes back in a relatively long way or a relatively short way depending on which way you look at it. Our relations are particularly strong within the Caribbean within the CARICOM [Caribbean Community and Common Market] community and much of our work is done through that. Also, through the developing international relations over the years.

EHdK 02:07 Tell me how you came from being a very prominent cricketer to your transition towards becoming a diplomat.

DM 02:17 I think cricket was something that I loved. It was very important to the Caribbean and representing Trinidad and Tobago cricket, representing the West Indies, is really a lifelong goal and ambition of most young sports persons. For me that was fortunate that it happened very early in my life. Almost straight from school at the Queen’s Royal College in Trinidad, I graduated into the West Indies cricket team then was in and out of international tours between 1963 and 1980.

EHdK 03:25 Sorry to interrupt. During that time, you spent time in the UK playing for Warwickshire?

DM 03:28 I spent time in the UK playing for Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire. I also attended Cambridge University and the University of Nottingham and really while playing cricket even at the international level. I was preparing myself for my life of the cricket. And much of that time was obviously spent in the United Kingdom. And returning to Trinidad and Tobago, I joined the Foreign Service. I spent many years in the Foreign Service most of which was posted to the United Nations in New York as part of the delegation which was another kind of tremendous experience. And then returned to the United Kingdom for my children, who were born in England, to finish their schooling, their education. And then my wife Maureen and myself returned to Trinidad and Tobago where I got involved in many non-governmental organisations.

EHdK 05:05 Tell me about your time in the UK. Where did you live and what were your initial impressions while you were living there in that time period?

DM 05:18 Most of the time living in the United Kingdom was spent in the cricket environment playing professional cricket and living in different places. So, we lived in Cambridge. My wife was at Hull University, so we lived in Hull for a little bit. Nottingham most of the time and Birmingham for a while. We had lived in different places. Then I got involved in the financial services in England during that time as well and worked with different companies ending up with Friends Provident so living a couple of years in Salisbury as well at the headquarters of Friends Provident at the time. It’s been a varied and very interesting time that we spent in the United Kingdom. So, in many ways we have experienced the United Kingdom as an ordinary citizen but also with the privilege of being in the cricket circles and the popularity and esteem afforded to the cricketers as opposed to just ordinary, everyday workers.

EHdK 07:08 How long have you been High Commissioner here in Jamaica?

DM 07:14 Just over two years. Unfortunately, most of it is coinciding with COVID and the various restrictions so it’s not been as adventurous as I thought it would have been in being able to explore more avenues physically in Jamaica but also in terms of energising better relations between Trinidad and Jamaica. Not just bilaterally but within CARICOM. So, a lot of that has been restricted. I’m hoping that as we come out of those restrictions there will be more avenues to explore even greater opportunities.

EHdK 08:12 Talk to me about the relationship between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. Principally, what are those avenues? The priorities basically in your day-to-day job, the relationships you’re looking to promote. Also, in terms of trade and commerce. What would be a typical agenda item for you?

DM 08:37 Yeah, again, I can’t talk about a typical agenda because, as I say, of the restriction so a lot of what we were exploring in terms of increasing trade opportunities but also simply exchange of resources. In the sense that things that Jamaica would be strong at and things Trinidad and Tobago would be strong at, we can have more of a free movement of those resources between the two countries. In terms of what we actually need, what we do. Collaborate in businesses. We have a lot of small and medium-sized entities that we want to encourage. We can encourage that through collaboration, sometimes without too much competition. And, of course, each of the two countries have fairly large corporations which are multinational, certainly in Caribbean terms. And again, we each have our relations with the rest of CARICOM so it’s really trying to improve our own bilateral relations but while also bringing along the rest of the Caribbean with us.

EHdK 10:14 Thank you. And can you give any specific examples? You talk about collaboration with small and medium-sized businesses. Have you got any examples of success stories?

DM 10:29 Well again, certainly in my time it would be limited. But there are so many avenues to explore both in terms of trade and industry. We have many companies floating on both stock exchanges. The stock exchange of Trinidad and Tobago and the stock exchange of Jamaica. We want to see a little bit more of that. But we also want to see more of those companies working together where we can. And there are interesting developments: GraceKennedy working with the Unit Trust Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago. We have some of the other territories like some of the big companies in Jamaica [inaudible] buying into a company like AS Bryden. So, you’re looking to see where there are synergies and how they can be developed. You have insurance companies like Sagicor Guardian Life operating in not only two territories, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica but around the other Eastern Caribbean States. So, there is a lot of opportunity. A lot of that is being tentatively developed. But I think we need to see greater collaboration in some of those, those entities and look to see how it benefits. And of course, on the side, the cultural types of arrangements that can come in. The big music industries, fashion industries within the Caribbean. Carnival is something that can be exported…So there are lots of things that we can do that happen through private enterprise collaborations but they can be on a greater scale. And while individually we are interested in encouraging each other and, for instance, Trinidad and Tobago can lead the way in terms of carnival and how carnival costumes are developed and how the whole festival of carnival is celebrated in Trinidad and Tobago and can be transferred to Jamaica. As it is with the Notting Hill Carnival, carnivals in Toronto, etc. So again, there can be a whole industry around that and the design and techniques of costume building and so that can go into that. We have a lot still to do and it’s trying to develop that.

EHdK 13:54 How much outreach do you have with the diaspora in Jamaica?

DM: 14:01 Again, because of the immediacy of COVID that hasn’t happened for the last two years. That needs to be revived because that’s such an important part of the work that our mission does in any country. Reach out in the diaspora itself but also to be able to expand and use the diaspora networks to help in that expansion and in that collaboration because so many of those come to Jamaica, seeing Jamaica through the university. People come to Mona from Trinidad and Tobago. Then they decide to stay, they get married, then there is inter-marriage, etc. So, again, it opens a whole new scope. So, it is very, very important that we can bridge those gaps and utilise the network that we have.

EHdK 15:08 Can I ask you about some of the services then that you provide at the High Commission? For example, what kind of documentation would somebody from Trinidad and Tobago need to enter and remain in Jamaica? Would they have to apply for a work visa or a visitor visa?

DM: 15:24 Again, those are some of the grey areas that on paper we should not need but we still have to go through the processes of CSME [CARICOM Single Market and Economy] certificates and contracts. The certificate is almost like a work permit that says people can come in and stay and live and work, etc. That is supposed to have encouraged free movement between the territories but, of course, that has not developed as rapidly and as widely as we thought. It is still very much subject to interpretation by individual immigration officers when somebody arrives in either one of the territories and still face the kinds of questions that the Treaty of Chaguaramas did not envisage at the time and so there is still a lot of work to be done on that.

EHdK 16:46 Thank you. Our project is looking at citizenship and migration and trying to understand the historical impact of different changes that took place in the UK and how that has impacted UK-Caribbean relations. I thought it was interesting to talk to you today particularly in terms of the type of conversations or the type of engagements that you may have with, for example, the UK High Commission in Jamaica. Do you regularly meet or speak to the UK High Commission, for example?

DM 17:30 Yes, we do. It’s an opportunity for each mission to network with the other mission. Yes, with the US the UK, China, some of the Latin American missions. Jamaica, I suppose, would be considered small in relation to some of the others. Where we have about 20 other delegations represented physically here in Jamaica. So, yes, we do networking and with a small group like that it’s easier to network than, say, in Washington or somewhere. But that kind of networking is happening in all the places that Trinidad and Tobago have representation. So, yes, we do, and we do maintain good relations. Obviously, in terms of our relations here with the British, for instance, we are very conscious that there is also a British…a Trinidad and Tobago High Commission in London. So, again, you need to be careful that we aren’t doing different things at different times. But most of the territories that are represented here…we’re fairly safe in those kinds of relations because we know what those relations are emanating out of Port of Spain so that we can also network fairly easily with our own missions in other places.

EHdK 19:29 From the conversations I’ve had, in terms of citizenship and migration, one of the clear differences between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, is the visitor visa to the United Kingdom. Is that something that you discussed during your during your posting here?

DM 19:49 No, not in any detail. Of course, in conversations it comes up. But obviously the whole question of citizenship and migration has changed over the years.

EHdK 20:06 How would you say it has changed?

DM 20:08 Well, because if you would think back to the days where we were a colony and citizenship was…we were British citizens at the time. And many people who were given the option at independence to choose whether you were British or Trinidad and Tobago.

EHdK 20:41 Was that people who were in Trinidad at the time? Was that made by an announcement via the government or was it just something that people…?

DM 20:49 I can’t remember. But they could actively have chosen.

EHdK 20:56 And how did those people choose?

DM 21:00 I would say the majority chose Trinidad and Tobago and, at that time, we did not allow dual citizenship in Trinidad and Tobago that is. But even that has changed over time and, of course, the British have had new immigration laws from about 1964 onwards and ongoing.

EHdK 21:30 Okay. I’m quite interested in your story. When did you arrive in the UK? How old were you when you first arrived, and what memories do you have of that time?

DM 21:42 So that was 1963 but that was part of a West Indies cricket team. So, of course, you had all the privileges.

EHdK 21:54 It is important to note your status as a sportsperson because that does afford specific privileges as you say. With footballers or baseball players…if somebody has got a skill…Olympic athletes as well…if they’ve got a skill to contribute then the visa process is very different for them because of that.

DM 22:24 Right. At that time, we didn’t really from memory, I don’t think we required visas, for instance.

EHdK 22:38 Can you remember the documents that you came to the UK with?

DM 22:41 No because again it was part of a team document. It was a whole team. So, as I say, we were guarded, if you like, from a lot of the prejudices and so that…let me use the term “ordinary” folks would come into. We didn’t have to find housing, etc. And it was incredible to find out that in some of the hotels we were staying at previously, even West Indies teams, some of the players weren’t allowed to stay in some of the hotels and whatnot. We were hearing those stories and then as we met the diaspora going around, we started finding out about people with problems of housing, of work and challenges.

EHdK 23:50 When you say that, was it the Caribbean community that you were speaking to or was it largely people from Trinidad or Jamaica?

DM 23:59 Mainly Caribbean, yes. And I would say, again, that because at that time, 1963, you look at the migration from each of the countries of the Caribbean, individually. They were relatively small. And to a large extent, while a Jamaican was proud to be a Jamaican, a Trinidad and Tobago citizen [was] proud to be Trinidad and Tobago…I suppose they found convenience and comfort in being Caribbean. And sometimes you would get questions like, “Oh, you are West Indian? You’re from Trinidad and Tobago. What part of Jamaica is that?” There were all those sorts of things that you faced and then you started finding out from the Caribbean diaspora the problems they had in getting employment. The education for their children etc was not what was promised. Because, remember, as a colony of Britain you were taught that this was the “mother country” and everything would be fine. They welcomed all the members of the Commonwealth, etc. It was eye opening to come in. And then when I then went back as a student, you know, it’s different. Again, a student in a university setting, in a hall of residence is again isolated from some of the problems of finding accommodation in different parts of the country. Again, individually, you know, you had certain protections in certain ways. But then occasionally you found yourself on your own. You’re having to go to places to find accommodation, you knock on the door, you call before to find out that this accommodation is still. Then you turn up five minutes later, the landlord or landlady sees you at the door and says, “Oh, sorry, the place has gone.” So, you faced, and you started understanding, what other people faced.

EHdK 27:06 That’s very interesting. Did you find that you were protected in some way because of your status as a cricketer and as a student? What did you study at Cambridge?

DM 27:22 Economics and then industrial economics at Nottingham University.

EHdK 27:30 In some ways, you were living a very privileged existence but at the same time there were certain moments where it was very clear to you that people were being mistreated.

DM 27:39 Yes, and even in cricket. Yes, you’re very protected. You were loaded and so in different spheres of your life in cricket. But you were also aware that there were could be different kinds of prejudices as you went along. You were aware that it wasn’t quite what you were taught in the history books in school in the Caribbean. All the British history books, etc. You were aware and then you heard the stories particularly of those who had been the pioneers in the Windrush arrival. And what were their expectations? They were coming to help rebuild Britain after the war and this was going to be their contribution to this. And they would welcome visitors and they would find a place that they could sort of fit into and call home. And the reality was very different. So, to us who came after you recognise the pioneering exploits of those who were first landed and then to go through the history of what happened. As students, you found yourself identifying with some of the cases, some of the issues that came up with harassment, with being charged, you know, and some of the more famous cases: the Mangrove Nine, etc. Some of the people involved in that would have been my contemporaries at school at Queen’s Royal College who had also come up through different avenues but around the same time. Someone like Darcus Howe [British Black Panthers], for instance, was a schoolmate. So, you know you’re thinking, how is he getting that treatment? It was a very interesting period, even parts of development and evolution.

EHdK 30:42 Did you find yourself involved with any movements or any organisations or groups of people that were organising against the way that it was? In response to Mangrove Nine would be an important example. Or the poor treatment of West Indians at that time? Were you aware of any organised efforts?

DM 31:08 We were aware of the organised efforts. Obviously, the communication was much more difficult in those days to communicate with students in different parts of the country so a lot of it focused on London. There was the West Indian Student Centre which was very much a central focal point of for all students. Wherever we were, at holiday time you gravitated towards London. That was where you got your news. It was some of us, and I must confess in my own instance, the involvement in sport. You’re always brought into the argument that sport and politics don’t go together. So, you try to stay away from that in some extent. It really wasn’t possible. But in terms of getting involved in issues of Transparency International and so that didn’t come to me until, well, after my cricket career.

EHdK 32:33 We’ll talk about Transparency International in a little bit. I was just interested in the…you said that your children were born in the UK? How many children do you have?

DM 32:41 Two boys and one grandson. One was born in Nottingham, and one was born in Birmingham.

EHdK 32:51 Are they still in the UK?

DM 32:54 They are still in the UK. One in Nottingham and one in Brighton.

EHdK 33:03 What years were they born?

DM 33:05 1972 and 1974.

EHdK 33:08 Right. Just in terms of documentation then. You went to the UK. Was it with a Trinidad and Tobago passport?

DM 33:16 It was with a Trinidad and Tobago passport.

EHdK 33:18 Okay and you have two children who had the British passport, is that right? Did you encounter any issues with that situation? With obtaining a British passport for the older children?

DM 33:34 No, we didn’t have any difficulty getting passports for them. They were born there. My wife Maureen and myself had residential status.

EHdK 33:49 They were born before the changes in the law that said if you were born in the UK, you’re not automatically a British citizen. In their time in UK, they haven’t encountered issues then with renewing their documents?

DM 34:05 No.

EHdK 34:10 Did you yourself obtain dual citizenship?

DM 34:15 Eventually, yes. Because we tried to travel to Europe with the boys and we found that there were places in Europe where they didn’t either accept a Trinidad and Tobago passport or you needed to get a visa and all the hassles and so. By then we qualified for a British passport and so we thought for convenience we would get the British passports. And by then Trinidad and Tobago had allowed dual citizenship.

EHdK 34:58 Do you remember what year Trinidad and Tobago allowed dual citizenship? Don’t worry, I am sure that we can look up the date. Did you have a citizenship ceremony? Do you remember anything about that experience?

DM 35:19 No, we applied and had different forms to send in. It did seem pretty straightforward. Then there was a period where we had to spend most of our time in the UK. I can’t remember but you couldn’t be away from the UK for, let’s say, over 100 days or whatever it was…was the regulation. We complied with those and then we got naturalisation and passports in due course. It seemed fairly straightforward, but this would have been round about the 1990s.

EHdK 36:08 And I remember now that dual citizenship was introduced in Trinidad in 1988 [29 June 1988]. That date had escaped me. OK, I’m very interested in your work as the chairperson of the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency International Institute. Tell me more about that and why that’s important to you.

DM 36:32 Well, it was more in terms of the work on anti-corruption and promoting good governance. A couple of friends and mentors were part of the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute which was then the local chapter of Transparency International. We had a few conversations. They encouraged me to join, and I did. We were a relatively small group but trying to make our voices heard.

EHdK 37:25 I know it’s an obvious question but why was the issue of good governance so important to the region?

DM 37:34 I think it is very important not just to the region but to the world to ensure that public officials are seen to be fair and transparent in their dealings with the public. There became a recognition that while the focus was on public officials, the public officials couldn’t enter into any untoward arrangements without the private sector being there so that they needed to be more open. And accountability for all parties to arrangements where public taxpayers’ money was involved in projects as we develop more and more in the economy. It wasn’t sufficient just to focus on perceived acts of corruption but also to look at how good governance can encourage accountability and put in place arrangements that minimised corruption.

EHdK 39:08 Did that lead to the introduction of new regulations?

DM 39:11 Yes, procurement legislation. One of the things that the organisation is still working on is election campaign financing so there’s still a lot of work to be done. Some of the regulations have been adopted but haven’t been proclaimed. There is still a lot of work to be done and the organisation is still very active and functioning in Trinidad and Tobago very well. There is the opportunity for the local chapter to interface with the…with Transparency International itself and out of that we also started looking at corruption in sport. Because, again, at one time you would think that sport is free of corruption and of course it isn’t. You need to have special ways of looking at those things even into team selection, you know, the selection of coaches… So, there’s a lot of cronyism and nepotism involved not just in sport but in other aspects of business. So, there was a greater focus on trying to bring all those things to the attention of the public.

EHd 40:55 Very good. Did the question in the citizenship registration or migration ever come up in the conversations around good governance and accountability? Was that ever a focus or a priority?

DM 41:12 In what sense?

EHdK 41:16 In the sense that there have been recent drives to ensure that people have their documents. I’m thinking of NIDS [National Identification System, Jamaica], for example, to ensure that citizens have the right documentation so they can essentially have proof of who they are. But also, because that helps in terms of tracing people for in terms of tax payments, pensions, welfare assistance and I just wondered if that had ever been something that you had discussed with people?

DM 41:44 Yes, it would be. It is an essential part of the whole question of accountability. Yes, it is part of the evolving process within Trinidad and Tobago, within Jamaica, etc. You look at it and then we compare notes with others. Yes, it is something that is continually being worked on and improved. Also, looked at in terms of whether you have an integrity commission, how does the integrity commission focus? What does it focus on? Somebody is a prosecutor or just advisory. So those conversations continue to happen.

EHdK 42:52 Great. Now I’d like to ask about the Windrush scandal in the UK because, essentially, this is a project trying to understand more about citizenship, migration and the events leading up to the scandal. Was there anything in your day-to-day life as a diplomat, for example, or in your conversations with the UN, or maybe just in general? Did you have any idea that something like the Windrush scandal was happening?

DM 43:32 Not really. I suppose in hindsight, maybe naïvely, one thought that certainly by the time I got to England in the 1960s that the status of those who had landed in 1948 had long been regularised. So, when things started coming to the surface, you suddenly thought, “But how come the authorities are picking on some of these people to say no you have to leave after how many years they would have been living, residing, thinking of themselves as UK citizens, as British?” Having, as I say, come at a time when they felt they were coming to help the rebuilding of Britain after the war. So, it would have been very unfortunate. It’s very easy, again, in hindsight to see how it could have happened because documentation was so different. Even in today’s world of high technology, it’s possible for so many mistakes to happen. It’s not surprising that everybody didn’t have the same piece of paper because most of those families would have moved from pillar to post over the time that they had been there.

EHdK 45:36 Also because the UK doesn’t have a national ID system as would be the case with Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica and other countries where I think it’s quite common for people to have their ID…We are going to wrap up the interview shortly. I just wondered what your initial impressions were of the scandal? When did you hear about it? Did you speak to other High Commissioners about your responses to it? Was it something that came to you through the media?

DM 46:11 No, I was in Trinidad just before coming to Jamaica, so I wasn’t actively involved in government law, political circles, other than Transparency at the time. It was as a layperson. Of course, having gone through some of the stages of living in England, citizenship, etc. What I’m saying to you is based on my peripheral knowledge of those things and understanding how it could possibly have happened. Imagining what somebody may have got stamped in their passport or not in 1948. Where is that passport? It would have been renewed umpteen times since then. So, you can see where a lot of things would not be in place. It seemed to be rather harsh. Particularly, you know, the concept of, “Yes, I may be Jamaican, or I may be Antiguan or something” but having lived and been part of Britain and thinking of yourself as British. To suddenly think well you really belong in Jamaica. You know Jamaica for many people would be a holiday destination or just a place where my forefathers were from. It really seemed to be harsh treatment without some collaboration in finding out the different parts of the history of someone’s stay and life in Britain at the time. Yes, it certainly wasn’t a conversation that I remember in any depth among the High Commission recently. It’s something that has to take course and obviously we as Caribbean people would be monitoring it.

EHdK 49:12 I think my question is if anybody…was this something that anybody went to the British High Commissioner with to talk about the scandal or to say that people were aware of it?

DM: 49:28 Yes. I’m not sure how representation was done. But I’m sure that the British High Commission in Jamaica, for instance, over the last few years would have received delegations and advocates for people from Jamaica or even from people from other islands, and [it’s] similar in Trinidad and Tobago.

EHdK 50:00 How do you see the future in terms of UK-Caribbean relations? Do you think that this scandal has done irreparable full damage?

DM 50:16 No, I think it’s left a bad taste. I don’t think it’s irreparable damage. I think relations between Trinidad and Tobago and Britain will continue to flourish. There are so many ties even predating independence that we need to maintain. Trade, industry and some of our legal parliamentary processes. We have incorporated so much of our early relationship with Britain that I think it would be difficult to – I don’t want to use the term sever ties because we wouldn’t – but I think they would continue to strengthen. As will other new ties that Trinidad and Tobago develops with other places so those will also continue. But I certainly think that an important part is the diaspora. By now it has grown so it is not only migration from present generations but there are people in…British subjects, for instance. And I say subjects, British citizens. Perhaps I should use that term instead. British citizens of Caribbean origin who will want to maintain those ties. As they become more influential, not just in parliament but in business as well. They will maintain those ties as well. So, I don’t think there’s a danger of any damage. So, yes, I think our ties will continue to flourish.

EHdK 52:52 Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today. It was a real pleasure. [END OF AUDIOFILE].

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