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Eustace: I don’t issue passports – deal with abetters

Eustace: I don’t issue passports – deal with abetters

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The government should deal with persons who assisted those “who took some sort of criminal action in order to get their passport fixed up”.{{more}}

The call by Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, last week Monday, came as his New Democratic Party (NDP) responded to criticisms of its supporting the asylum claims of some Vincentians in Canada.

“I don’t issue passports you know. Deal with the people,” Eustace said on the NDP’s radio programme.

Eustace and Central Kingstown representative St Claire Leacock, an NDP Vice-President, told SEARCHLIGHT that they each wrote letters for about six of the 5,249 Vincentians who sought refugee status in Canada between 2001 and June this year.

But Eustace, noting that Canada said “unreliable travel documents” was “the key reason” for the new visa requirement, said the government in Kingstown must accept responsibility for the development.

Canada said on September 11 that visas are now required for Vincentians because “[t]here has also been an unacceptably high number of asylum claims from St Lucia and St Vincent, with about one and a half percent and three percent of the population of these countries making asylum claims in Canada over the past five years.”

The government has blamed the opposition for encouraging these refugee claims, noting the letters by the two opposition lawmakers.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said on September 11 that he had reprimanded Steve Phillips, the nation’s envoy in Toronto, after he wrote a letter in 2008, supporting a woman’s refugee claim.

Eustace spoke on radio bout the letters he wrote:

“… in every case that I dealt with, they asked me if they can give a statement on the state of the Vincentian economy on the grounds that I, as a trained economist, would be able to do so,” he said.

The government and the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union have said that the Vincentian economy registered three years of economic decline, ending in 2010.

But the opposition, citing International Monetary Fund statistics, has said 2011 was a fourth consecutive year of economic contraction.

“So, I would write about the lack of economic growth … and the general poor state of our economy and the government finances,” he said.

Eustace further said he wrote letters for people who were already in Canada.

“If people are making a genuine application … that means the authorities (in Canada) know who they are and where they are,” he said.

He said he was concerned about the threat of fraudulent passports.

“That is what is important, because you are giving false information, which has implications for national security in Canada, as well as here in St Vincent and the Grenadines.”

The Canadian officials seem to have concerns about the process through which some legitimate passports were issued.

A Kingstown court jailed a man, who having been deported from Canada, returned to the North American nation using a new Vincentian passport, issued in a dead man’s name.

Vincentian passports legitimately issued to persons who legally change their name contain both the old and new names.

In addition to St Vincent and the Grenadines and St Lucia, Canada two weeks ago also imposed visa requirement on four African nations. ([email protected])

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