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Bureaucracy made me feel like a prisoner in my country

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Fri May 17, 2013

Editor: I was very excited to travel to the nearby Caribbean island as school was on its annual Easter vacation. However, to my great surprise, I was questioned by the immigration officer as to my occupation, reason for leaving my country and then requested to provide evidence of permission to leave the state.{{more}}

Firstly, I must declare that I have no problem with immigration officers doing their job, because they are the ones who help to protect borders. However, I certainly have an issue in the way they interrogate persons, especially nationals of their very own country.

As a teacher, I do not see the reason for me to have a reason to leave St Vincent and the Grenadines, more so during school holidays. As an employed person, I think it should be my liberty to travel the length and breath of the diaspora. What compromised the matter was the fact that one of my fellow teachers was on the same flight and was not interrogated as I was. This means there is no systematic approach to the screening of persons. As a matter of fact, the immigration lass and I are from the same locale, hence the reason for my interrogation.

Recently, I learnt of the police officer who was wanted for a crime and managed to leave the country. Sad, since I believe he escaped justice, but other persons in the government system must not pay for the lackadaisical approach of the police in apprehending criminals.

In the past, I have applied for this permission to leave the state and on every occasion, I did not receive it in time for my travel date, but did not get any hassle. Moreso, I did not think I needed to apply for permission to leave the state, since school was on vacation and I expected no delays, since I am a law-abiding citizen.

Why were we creating so many problems for our fellow Vincentians, especially those who make a valid contribution to our society? I checked nearby islands and St Vincent seems to be the only country that is heavy handed on this immigration measure. We complain about the economy and yet when persons try to contribute to it, they are presented with so much bureaucracy. I should not feel as if I am a prisoner in my country. I should not feel like leaving the state is reliant on the Chief Personnel Officer or some unprofessional immigration lad or lass.

The system needs revision, taxpayers, especially civil servants should not feel like they cannot enjoy the fruits of their labour by putting so many restrictions on the simple things that make us proud Vincentians.

If I am absent from work, then deal with me; until then, we need to stop making big professional men and women be prisoners in the land of their birth.

Prisoner

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