January 27, 2006

Citizenship ring to be investigated

An investigation is to be undertaken to look into situations where persons may have acquired Vincentian citizenship illegally.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves made this announcement on Monday, saying that he had been advised ” in the past, not the near past, some persons who have acquired citizenship did so on a basis which offends the existing citizenship act.”{{more}}

Stating that the country’s citizenship is a serious matter, Dr. Gonsalves, who is the minister responsible for citizenship, has warned anyone currently engaged in facilitating bogus citizenship applications to desist immediately. “If there has been a ring which has facilitated bogus applications and a consequential grant of citizenship, it will be broken.”

Expressing the opinion that the laws of the country regarding the acquisition of citizenship and its administration have, in many respects, been too lax, Dr. Gonsalves said that during this year, a review of the SVG Citizenship Act, which was passed in 1984, will be done. “Urgent corrective measures are needed,” he stated.

He mentioned that as Minister responsible for citizenship, he has the power to deprive someone who had acquired Vincentian citizenship fraudulently, by false representation or by the concealment of any material particulars, of that citizenship.

Meanwhile, it was announced that by October 1 this year, the Immigration Department will be set up as a department separate from the Police. For this, and other reasons, the Immigration (Restriction) Act will be amended this year.