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HomeCBI ProgramsCaribbeanSt Lucia passport under scrutiny

St Lucia passport under scrutiny

By Caribbean News Global fav

ENGLAND / USA / CANADA – Communiqué is certain among international gateways and agencies of interest that Saint Lucia passports are predominantly obtained through third-party (street corner operations) service options, at variable service costs.

The ongoing situation has heightened security concerns, privacy issues, data and validity from many complaints and inquiries, prompting a police investigation.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Ronald Philip, said: “I have been made aware of the situation, and an investigator has been assigned to look into it.”

In local circles, the question arises: “Another investigation of self? Police investigation the police.”

The “investigation” follows months of complaints at the immigration department arising from accessing and processing passports and that; a seemingly third party option to facilitate passport applications and to obtain a passport, albeit at variable cost, (sometimes within three days) while others not part of the third-party equation are said to wait for weeks and months.

“It’s not that our company can get passports quickly; we go through the same process as everyone else; we take the line like everyone else,” said Cindy Alexander Gabriel, CEO of The Briefcase. “We go to the cashier just like everyone else. The difference here is that we follow up on our applications.”

“Based on this receipt, it may have been a passport application that was done, JP services rendered, the availability and purchase of a passport form and also photographs, ” Cindy Alexander-Gabriel explained to Newsspin last week. “We are not doing anything illegal. We are not doing anything fraudulent.”

The government of Saint Lucia on July 25, 2022, rolled out the e-passport at EC$250 for five years.

“The e-passport is at $250; the replacement of passport before the expiry date is at $300; [expedited or emergency services remains unchanged at $50]; issuance of collective travel documents is at $75; issuance of certificate of identity remains at $50. Permits for each extension of residence not exceeding 30 days is at $200; live image capture is at $10, and certification and endorsements is at $20.”


Minister for the Public Service, Home Affairs, Labour and Gender Affairs, Dr Virginia Albert-Poyotte

Last February, home affairs minister Dr Virginia Albert-Poyotte took exception at Saint Lucian’s using their talent to offer services to seemingly “disenfranchised nationals”, unable to navigate ridiculous and disrespectful services at the immigration department to obtain a Saint Lucian passport, said in part: we are seeing it developing as a little business and this is something I am encouraging Saint Lucians to discourage.

On May 21, 2023, Caribbean News Global (CNG) reported, “St Lucia’s passport office in disarray” and per the home affairs press release, reported: 

“Due to ongoing challenges with air quality and additional maintenance issues, a dual shift system has been implemented for staff at the Immigration department in downtown Castries.” 

The department of home affairs opined:

“Ensuring the safety and well-being of employees and clients, remains paramount, therefore, to minimize the time spent by individuals within the building, the department will be operating on a one-day-in, one-day-out schedule.”

With apparent wit and sophistication, the department of home affairs, continued:

“Express applications will not be processed unless they are accompanied by medical proof.”

Equally, “adjustment to operational procedures at the immigration department,” offered Saint Lucian’s apologies” in exchange for passports. 

The mechanism of democracy is absent when security is negligible. It is, therefore, not clear, why the government of Saint Lucia via the ministry of justice and national security; and home affairs have not issued any notice or made an announcement to the public.

In an era where data is sovereign, identity fraud schemes and other statutory factors are common. Identification fraud by possessing, producing, and transferring government / personal identification documents is problematic, if not unlawful. Moreover, accessing, possessing, and retaining most personal documents is a sensitive matter, that requires authorization.

To date, the government of Saint Lucia has not specified if “The Briefcase” is an authorised agent, licenced for the location, possession, review, display, discussion and lawful retention of sensitive documents for passport application and other related services.

It is also unclear whether persons with seemingly, eligible access to government operations and voluminous personal information/documents have signed an approved non-disclosure agreement to ensure that citizens’ information is safeguarded from unauthorized disclosure.

From a national security perspective, the government must protect citizens and enforce all classification rules and enforce all laws relating to the handling of national information and documents.

It seems business as usual with the various unsurprising methods to obtain a Saint Lucian passport, hitherto, consistent with the interest to acquire and protect constitutional responsibility.

Listen to The Briefcase interview.

 

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