On January 25th the former Director of Immigration Ruth Meighan dropped a bombshell when she announced during her testimony to the Senate Select Committee’s immigration inquiry that over 2,000 nationalities were fast-tracked before the 2012 elections by the Immigration Department and that many of them were illegally issued. The testament caused major political headache for the Barrow administration who, having won 2 early elections since, has had their legitimacy as a duly-elected Government questioned by the Opposition. Prime Minister Dean Barrow responded to the allegations on Sunday, as the media met him at the airport. The PM claimed to a totally different version of what Meighan said before the Senate, than the version we heard. While not denying the possibility of Immigration fraud during the period, he said there might be only a few.


Screen_Shot_2017-02-20_at_8.10.14_PMRt. Honourable Dean Barrow Prime Minister of Belize


“My best guess, you might find 30 or so of those cases you are without a doubt not talking about any significant numbers such as would have or could have made any difference to the election results and there is no evidence at all to say whether all those got citizenship before the election in fact did registered I time to go, that sort of thing would have to be checked out and I welcome the media engaging in that exercise because I am absolutely certain that you cannot find any large numbers of persons having obtained citizenship fraudulently or improperly thereafter voting in the election in such droves as anybody could claim affected.”


Reporter


“Madam former Director Ruth Meighan has conceded in the Senate Inquiry that there was nationality fraud and that it transferred to voter’s fraud and the Auditor General notes that she wants to look specifically at 2110…”


Rt. Honourable Dean Barrow Prime Minister of Belize


“You are talking about the two thousand where there was not the biometric system in place nobody is saying that there were two thousand passport that were issued fraudulently, I think the media ran off with that kind of characterization from the time the question of the lack of biometric came up we had a Press Conference at the Biltmore where the new Director and the experts showed you that, you cannot equate the lack of biometrics with fraud that is the way it used to be from the beginning before we had biometrics so please let us dispel that notion there is nothing at all that can support any claim that two thousand an odd persons were wrongly give nationality.”

 

Reporter


“That is what the Auditor General says in her report she asked the government and she ask herself to look at those two thousand and make sure?”


Rt. Honourable Dean Barrow Prime Minister of Belize


“But we’ve already told you, it doesn’t make any sense at all to say that the lack of the biometric screening meant qued that the passports so given were fraudulent that is nonsense and you can’t prove a negative so I’m very sorry. Indeed those persons who were given nationality illegally, of course the question of cancelling their passports, cancelling that nationality has to arise now, let me just leave it there, although some of them might though have an argument saying that they didn’t do anything wrong they thought the documentation was in order and the blame is therefore on the officials and on the public service but let’s not even get into that, in principle the automatic answer to that is that on the face of it anybody who received a passport improperly is liable to have that passport cancelled.”

With a cloud of irregularity and growing mistrust hanging over the Immigration Department, would the PM acquiesce to an investigation into the over 2,000 names of persons who received their nationalities just before the 2012 elections? He said he would not stand in the way, and vouched that his Party’s political success will not be diminished.

 

Rt. Honourable Dean Barrow Prime Minister of Belize


“Let the Senate inquiry, let any other official am happy to Commission that sort of an exercise, make the kind of investigation into how many people were actually given irregularly or illegally or improperly nationality certificates who then registered and voted find that out and then we can then start talking because I am telling you that you will discover that you are not talking about any significant numbers, Mrs. Ruth Meighan could tell you about passports that may have been issued on the basis of fraudulent nationality, she could never tell you that how many of the persons who got such passports later on registered she is not at elections and boundaries and she have not done that sort of an exercise and she is not even pretending to do that sort of an exercise similarly for the Auditor General nobody tried to follow through and I am saying that we are perfectly happy for that exercise to be done now because no man, you cannot seek now to try to delegitimize the resounding victory of the United Democratic Party at the polls on that last elections.”


The Auditor General’s office has signalled their intention of carrying out such a review in their special audit report on Immigration. The Senate Select Committee currently carrying out an inquiry into the allegations contained in the special audit have the power to recommend such investigation.

Share this post

This content has been locked. You can no longer post any comment.