Birth certificate from non-existent country, signed by dead man
July 5, 2013

Birth certificate from non-existent country, signed by dead man

A senior lawyer in this country recently certified an application for a Vincentian passport for someone who presented a birth certificate from a country which does not exist.{{more}}

According to Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr Ralph Gonsalves, the birth certificate was from the Communist Republic of Nigeria, and was signed in 1992, by a Marxist revolutionary who had died since 1940.

Because of this, and some other “very bad experiences” with lawyers, the Government has had to impose restraints on certain lawyers from applying for certain documents, the Prime Minister said on Tuesday, while addressing Parliament.

Gonsalves was at the time, responding to a question posed by Senator Vynnette Frederick, who said the restrictions imposed by Cabinet have made it difficult for some, while proving expensive for others who may require a birth certificate.

Frederick’s question was: “The recent decision by Cabinet to make it impossible in some circumstances for lawyers to apply for and receive birth certificates from the Registry of Births and Deaths on behalf of their clients, has made it costly and difficult for individuals to make applications for declarations of paternity after death to produce evidence in some contentious matters where age of one party must be proven by the other and to do nominal and other estates where beneficiaries live outside St Vincent. Indeed the cost of providing their identity and giving permission to a third party raises the cost of a $15 birth certificate to almost $500 in some cases. In light of these difficulties, will the Minister consider suspending these new requirements in circumstances where Lawyers are functioning for clients and can detail this on the application form. This matter requires urgent review.”

The Prime Minister said he does not intend to suspend the new requirements.

He explained that the person applying for the Vincentian passport with the fraudulent birth certificate got hold of the birth certificate of a Vincentian woman and made the claim that he was the son of the woman, which entitled him to become a Vincentian citizen by way of descent, and therefore eligible for a Vincentian passport.

The woman’s birth certificate was taken and used, but it was not obtained in an authorized manner, Gonsalves explained.

And according to the Prime Minister, the lawyer involved in this case was not an uninitiated person.

“This is somebody high up in the system,” Gonsalves said.

The applicant claimed that his father came to St Vincent and married the woman whose birth certificate he had obtained, before returning to Nigeria, where the applicant says he was born in 1992.

The Prime Minister provided a copy of the “foreign” birth certificate that was sent with the passport application.

“I want the country to see what some lawyers will send.”

The Prime Minister said that the document provided by the applicant purported to originate from the Communist Republic of Nigeria.

“There is no country ever…,” the Prime Minister said, before he and other members of the House broke into laughter.

“This is a birth certificate which a lawyer sent with somebody for a passport.

“That is why I told the Canadians we have all kinds of checks you know,” Gonsalves said.

He continued to describe the document – it was headed “The Communist Republic of Nigeria; State Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics.”

The document also stated “Birth registration notice: this certifies that a certificate of birth has been filed with the State Registrar of Vital Statistics under [the individual’s name].”

The document was signed and filed on November 26, 1992 by one Leon Trotsky.

Leon Trotsky was a former Russian Marxist revolutionary and theorist, Soviet politician and founder and first leader of the Red Army.

Trotsky was attacked and killed at his home in Mexico in August, 1940. He was stabbed with an ice pick by an undercover agent.

“Yet he turned up in Nigeria in 1992 to sign a document,” Gonsalves said.

The Prime Minister said that although it may seem difficult to obtain a birth certificate, there are ways in which one could be obtained.

“I don’t want to make it difficult for people to get a birth certificate, but the way the world is now with document fraud, we have to be careful that we all cooperate and have the birth certificate secure,” he said.

He said it is for this reason why new features were added to the birth certificate, and according to Gonsalves, the Government is constantly looking for ways to improve it.

He said that the Government is engaged in discussions with Canadian Bank Note.

“I want to make these documents safer, as I told the Canadians,” the Prime Minister said.

In fact, he said that the Canadians expressed how shocked they were when they were told of the stringent rules to obtain a birth certificate.

“And I am asking please, support this in trying to keep our documents safe and secure – we are mindful that there are circumstances that may create a hardship,” he said.

What if the Canadians had gotten a hold of this underlying document, signed by Leon Trotsky and the individual is a holder of a Vincentian passport, Gonsalves asked.

Those persons presently authorized to apply for a birth certificate include the owner, legal parents of the child, the children of the owner of the document, legal guardian (with the appropriate legal documentation), an attorney acting on behalf of a client and whom the applicant knows for a period of five years, social welfare officers, police officers or any other person duly authorized by the applicant. (DD)