Dominica police are down-playing reports alleging that the country’s passports are being targeted by fraudsters and that the matter is a source of concern for some US states.
“Dominicans caught in unfolding identity fraud seek answers,” screams the headline of an article written by activist Thomson Fontaine on his website Dominican.net
The article points to what it says are a number of such cases, including that of a Dominican woman who “went in to have her United States passport renewed when she was pulled aside for questioning. It turned out that someone with her name and date of birth had entered the United States just a few months earlier on a Dominican passport with a US visa issued at the embassy in Barbados”.
Fontaine was on a flying visit to Dominica earlier this month when he reiterated his concerns to a privately owned radio station about alleged fraudulent use of Dominican passports.
At a news conference on Wednesday where he reported on recent police activity, Police Commissioner Cyril Carrette suggested that the alleged passport fraud was a matter being blown out of proportion.
“I am satisfied that the control of our Dominican passports is being done properly. So when people go about talking talking, they have to come with evidence,” the Commissioner told reporters.
He said such cases should be referred to the police, instead of being taken to the media in an attempt to sensationalize the issue.
“You have information, you pass it to the appropriate authority and let us investigate the veracity of those statements that they are making,” Carrette insisted.
“The producers of our passport, CBN – Canadian Bank Notes – they are one of the best in the world. And the security features on our passports, it’s very difficult to really forge the Dominican passport,” the commissioner said.
He conceded that “everything is not a 100 proof, but I am satisfied that our passport is sufficiently secure that you cannot really forge the passport easily”.
In his April 15 (2012) Dominican.net article Fontaine says “since the initial reports surfaced, more than 8 persons have recounted similar stories about finding out that someone else is using their identity to travel”.
According to the former IMF accountant, the initial finding points to “birth papers used to fuel the burgeoning trade in human trafficking taking place in Dominica”.
He adds that anecdotal evidence points to documents given to Haitian migrants who first travel to Dominica and are subsequently accommodated to move on to other countries.
Commissioner Carrette has acknowledged that there is a bit of a problem with “Haitians coming in here with fraudulent passports and they are being detected. And sometimes they may pass through the cracks as well”.
Thomson concludes that strikingly, the Dominican authorities are yet to comment publicly on the troubling cases of stolen identity.
However Commissioner Carrette says the police are yet to receive any such reports, and can’t probe such matters on the basis of people going on radio talk shows to make such claims.