Three weeks ago the news broke of an incident at the Immigration office in Belize City where an alleged terrorist linked to Hezbollah received a false Belizean identity in a matter of two days.  Since the incident, the supervisor at the Immigration office who approved the passport for Rafic Mohammad Labbon Allaboun, has told investigators that Allaboun showed him a social security card, which turned out to be fake.  Today the Minister of Immigration, Godwin Hulse, told Love News that the Immigration officers who dealt with Allaboun have been shuffled around but remain on the job as the police investigation progresses along.  He also said that the loopholes in the system will be tightened to prevent another such incident from happening.

HONORABLE GODWIN HULSE

Minister of Immigration

Belize C.A.

“The focus is to ensure without a doubt that when you go to the Immigration Department, you are who you say you are and that you are a proper Belizean either by proper registration, by descent or by natural birth – that is the focus; and the weakness right now is the identification processes right now have a lot of loop holes – that’s what we are focusing on tightening up because for every passport that gets out there, for anybody who is fraudulent, they disenfranchise every Belizean.  This is a family; we are all one and when somebody steps off our shores with a document that says I am a member of that family we want to make sure that is so if not it will subject all of us when we travel to the indignities because of that one person’s misconduct and misbehavior and so that is what we are trying to tighten.”

MARION ALI

News Reporter

Love FM

“In this particular case, I think the Supervisor at the Immigration Department was only shown an ID, he never even endeavor to make copies of it.  Isn’t it the norm that when somebody applies for a passport that copies of that identification that he presents are made?”

HONORABLE GODWIN HULSE

Minister of Immigration

Belize C.A.

“Well, there are a lot of things, we can’t substantiate whether those were done or not done and I won’t comment but we are investigating.  The thing is the process, let’s look at the process – somebody comes in with a form signed by a JP who says I know you and they bring an ID which is a Social Security and then it’s done – that is what we want to tighten because those are weaknesses; so we want to make sure that when somebody says they know you – they really know you and that they know that they cannot say they know you if they don’t because there will be penalties.  That person who is recommending you must know that they have to be telling the truth and any other ID you have must be verified to ensure that you are who you say you are, that’s the first part and the second part is to  ensure that you are a citizen of Belize and you can only be a citizen in one of three ways, either by birth, by descent or by registration and we have got to be satisfied that you are a citizen by one of those means.”

MARION ALI

News Reporter

Love FM

“There will always be con artists who will want to trick the system and get a Belizean identity; what can you ensure that within the system itself, you don’t have people who are acting in collusion, for example – Government workers?”

HONORABLE GODWIN HULSE

Minister of Immigration

Belize C.A.

“When we put the policy and the process out there, it will answer that question and I don’t want to go into it yet but we are making it that you will have to go through some hoops and so you have to be pretty good and know how to go through those hoops.   Again, power resides and responsibility, for the most part reside at the top and we are going to fix this; I am telling you that we are going to fix this and we have difficulty in fixing this and if there are  issues about people that power will slowly and slowly move up until it gets to me, it’s already with me – it’s delegated but if we have to pull it back until it gets up to the top, it will create some inconvenience but we can be dead sure that nobody around the world will be able to penetrate that – we can be sure of that.”

Minister Hulse said that he will make himself available to the various media houses to inform the public of the changes being made within the Immigration Department.

LOVEFM