Leader of the Opposition, Lennox Linton, has called for the immediate cessation of the distribution of Dominica diplomatic passports, saying that there is evidence they are being sold.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday he said the “indiscriminate distribution” of such passports is the biggest threat to the island’s Citizenship by Investment Program (CBI).
“I stand here today to say to Dominica, it is time to wake up,” he said. “And it is time for us to demand immediate cessation of distribution of all diplomatic passports in Dominica pending a full independent inquiry as to what has gone on in the last 17 years under this Labour Party administration…”
According to Linton, investigations by CBS 60 Minutes have found that “the sale of diplomatic passports, though it is not part of the citizenship by investment program, it goes on under the table particularly in Dominica which has had a most impressive corp of dodgy diplomats.”
He claimed that 227 diplomatic passports have been issued between October 14, 2010, and January 11, 2016.
“The question we have, the question that remains unanswered who has these passports?” he said.
He said as a responsible opposition, on October 19, 2016, a question was posed in parliament to the minister responsible for the matter but it was ignored.
“And after it was ignored, you hear talk around the country like the opposition not standing up for Dominica because it doesn’t know what’s going on, they not doing anything, what are they doing,” he said.
He noted that similar questions were asked in 2006 and 2012 and answers were received but when asked in 2016, the government’s response that it does not reveal sensitive information was ‘curious.’
“The answer this time around was curious: ‘ The government has never, as a rule, publicized sensitive details of appointments outside of corresponding countries to which persons are engaged.’ “I stop here,” he stated. “Question. What sensitive details did we ask for? We only requested the names of the holder of the passports and if such passport has been revoked or canceled, the date of such revocation or cancellation. What sensitive details are you talking about?”
Linton said the response of the government shows that something is amiss.
“And I will tell you what is amiss people of Dominica,” Linton noted. “This for me is evidence that diplomatic passports are being sold because what the information would have disclosed is that people who have found themselves in trouble with the law but had our diplomatic passports still continue to hold on to them. They should be revoked, they should withdraw them. If you found out that they are involved in international banditry, money laundering or terrorism or so, but they still have the passport. Why do they have them? Because they paid for them and the people who received the money are not willing to refund it. So if, what you have paid me, you are not willing to refund, then you have no authority to ask me what I have taken from you in exchange. And that is what the answer to the passport question is all about, they are hiding information in order to prevent the public from knowing the truth…”
At a press conference last earlier this week, Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit said diplomatic passports are not sold under any circumstances.