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Justices of Peace warned not to make false declarations

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A warning has been issued to Justices of the Peace (JPs) that action will be taken if it is discovered that they make false declarations on applications for birth certificates and passports.{{more}}

Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr Ralph Gonsalves, speaking on WE FM’s “Shake Up” from London on October 19, said the Immigration authorities had complained about problems with three JPs.

He said the Cabinet Secretary is to interview those persons regarding these problems.

“And upon the recommendations, appropriate action will be taken,” Gonsalves said.

He explained that if an allegation is made against a JP, then that person has a right to be heard and the Cabinet Secretary will report to him and the declarations signed by such persons will not be recognized by the authorities.

Gonsalves also indicated that from time to time, the Immigration Department has had to speak to lawyers who also have the privilege to sign.

“Members of Parliament are empowered to sign … The point is when you sign a declaration, if you do not sign truthfully, you would commit a criminal offence,” Gonsalves said.

And, Godfred Pompey, permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security, said that the problem of fraud is not with the immigration department, but it has to be with the source document — namely the birth certificate.

“So, if there is a problem within the registry or Justice of the Peace or lawyers not exercising due diligence to individuals, it’s difficult for the Immigration Department at times,” Pompey told SEARCHLIGHT.

He said the onus is on those signing to ensure that they have known the applicant for at least five years.

“But some people you go, and you pay the money; they don’t know you and they sign the document and there it goes,” Pompey said.

This call comes months after Chief Immigration Officer Stanford Hamilton made a similar call to those responsible for certifying the authenticity of documents of applicants for Vincentian birth certificates and passports.

The appeal came hours after a Vincentian man, Mark John Dublin, was deported from Canada.

He was later charged and convicted for fraud and deception after giving a public servant a birth certificate under another person’s name. (DD)

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