The demand has come in the wake of recent controversial developments involving the country’s travel documents.
The opposition charges that passports are being sold contrary to international best practices. They allege that persons can easily secure St. Kitts & Nevis passports on the black market, and eventually they could become devalued.
Reference was made to the diplomatic uproar created when an Iranian, Alizera Moghadam entered Canada on a St. Kitts and Nevis diplomatic passport, claiming to have official business with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The opposition said neither Harper’s Office nor Canadian High Commission in Trinidad or Barbados knew anything of any diplomat name Moghadam and they had no record of any appointment for a Mr. Moghadam from Iran.
In a release to the media this the opposition also revealed that Canada then discovered that Moghadam was an economic citizen of St Kitts and Nevis, and border officials quoted him as claiming to have paid 1 million dollars for his passport. “This practice of selling our diplomatic passports is a practice that is internationally tabooed; it is the frolic of rogue states.” They added that in that regard, Canada threatened to withdraw the visa free access to Canada from holders of St. Kitts and Nevis passports unless the government instituted certain measures, which included:
- Ban Iranians and Afghans from participating in the Citizenship by Investment Programme.
- Undertake major reforms in the Citizenship by Investment Programme with particular attention to the due diligence procedures and systems.
- Revert to insert country of birth /domicile field in the passport given to economic citizens. This will allow their identity of origin to be revealed more easily.
It was also stated that in a Cabinet submission Foreign Affairs Minister Patrice Nisbett told the Cabinet that the visa free status of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis into Canada was under threat. Nisbett drew the alarm of the Cabinet after enquiries were made by Canadian Border officials regarding the Federation’s passport programme and a meeting with Canadian officials regarding same issue.
The opposition has also indicated that Nisbett wrote in the submission “It was evident during the meeting that the matter involving Mr. Moghadam’s entry to Canada may have served as a catalyst and may be the precursor to further actions by the Canadian Authorities.”
Nisbett continued, “Given the sensitivity of this matter particularly its possible implications for the continuation of the visa free status which the Federation enjoys with Canada, it is imperative that Honorable Colleagues address the issues comprehensively. The majority of the concerns raised are not new, but require further consideration so that the appropriate policy, administrative, legislative changes are affected in the shortest possible time” “To achieve this, I recommend involvement at the highest level, particularly to the formally engage the relevant authorities in Canada with a view to requesting their technical and/or other support to address the issues raised, notwithstanding our non-receipt of more specific details.”
Another incident highlighted by the opposition was the news that Police is investigating how a Jamaican secured possession to a St. Kitts and Nevis passport for which he told authorities that he paid.
These episodes coming to public attention in recent times have raised serious concerns about the system of control relating to our passports and they have caused many questions to be asked said opposition members. Who really possess them? Is there a black market for them? Who are benefiting from this corrupt trade in our passports? Why is there silence from officialdom? Has the diplomatic passport of Moghadam been revoked? Does Moghadam have friends in high places preventing the government from doing the right thing? Are there other Moghadams out there? Sitting at lunch tables with high officials?
They have called on all nationals to condemn, what they call, “the policy failures of this illegitimate regime that is undermining the integrity of our passport. To condemn the government however is only the first step. To restore the integrity and value of our passport, we have to vote out the Douglas Regime.”