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We do not, and cannot discriminate on basis of nationality – PM

We do not, and cannot discriminate on basis of nationality – PM


Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves told the media last week that there is no discrimination when it comes to persons applying for Vincentian citizenship.

The Prime Minister, speaking at a press briefing at Cabinet room on January 7,refuted a United States{{more}} Treasury Department publication that listed one Hossein Zeidi, an Iranian, as a Vincentian citizen.

He, however, said that the Constitution of St Vincent and the Grenadines does not allow for persons to be refused citizenship because of sex, race, ethnic group, political opinions, colour or creed.

“We do not, and cannot discriminate on the basis of nationality or place of origin in the grant or withholding of the passport; that’s not a policy decision, that’s a constitutional requirement,” Gonsalves said.

“If an application for an Iranian comes before me for citizenship, and all the due diligence and everything is there, I have to apply my mind against the backdrop of the citizenship law and fundamentally the Constitution of St Vincent and the Grenadines. I can’t look at it and say ‘Iranian, no.’”

He said some Vincentians seem to buy into frenzy when Iranians are mentioned.

He said that this hysteria pertaining to persons of Iranian nationality, as well as nationals from other regional and international backgrounds needs to stop.

“It’s as though they gone off because Iran and the United States have had some problems…. But you don’t tar every citizen of a country because of the complexion of the government or the disagreement, which some people may have. You (going to) have bad people from whichever part of the world you live or come from. So we have to get this thing out of our heads….

“I know a Vincentian who is in love with an Iranian woman; they are either married or getting married shortly. Suppose she decides to apply for citizenship….

“….Sometimes I get a feeling that there are some people, who as soon as you are a Jamaican or a Guyanese, they just believe that you come here to do something unlawful or to take advantage of the country.

“I say that has to come out of our head. We must have no prejudices based on grounds of nationality…

“Because a lot of ordinary people would have these “prejudices” you will hear them say ‘that Jamaican, you think them Jamaican easy, or them Guyanese all them want to is so on and so on. But I can’t have that prejudice and discrimination in my head…. I have to follow the law,” the Prime Minister said.

Gonsalves, who indicated that he oversees all applications for citizenship, may approve any application as long as all documents are completed, and due diligence is performed.(JJ)