Immigration Minister Wants to Make it Easier For Belizean To Get Passports

And, while a bogus nationality document has been making headlines all this week, business as usual continued today for the Immigration Department. 57 new citizens were sworn in at a ceremony at the George Price Centre. That's where our colleagues at PLUS TV got a chance to speak with Minister of State Beverly Williams about that bogus nationality certificate. She handed out many of the newer type today -with its added security features - but says she feels there are many fraudulent older types out there:...

Hon. Beverly Williams, Minister of State - Immigration
"Really there are many certificates out there that I firmly believe were duplicated before. We changed it and now they are trying use them to get a social security card and to also then move for a Belizean passport. We are in partnership with all the departments; the vital statistics, social security board - sometimes Election and Boundaries, so that we share information and it was in deed social security who look at it and said it doesn't look right and brought it to the immigration department."

"The new certificate I will tell you is not that easy to replicate. It has watermarks and security features that makes it a bit more secure. Nothing is foolproof, but we are comfortable at this time. Some of them 15 years ago were persons who we could not locate. You will see some of them had the old certificate, they were already signed, so our intention is to redo those. We've already asked them to bring them back and we'll give them certificates with the new features which we believe is more secure, less risk in terms of replicating or duplicating the certificate."

And while the Department is trying to get the old certificates out of circulation, they are also trying to cut down on the difficulties that regular Belizeans experience in trying to get a new passport. The stringent security measures were put in after the Citizen Kim event - but Williams says she feels it needs to be revised:..

Hon. Beverly Williams, Minister of State - Immigration
"In terms of the passport I am of firm belief that there is a need to review that process also. We put it in when there were so many fraudulent passports and Belizeans suffer because of some of the requirements and I say suffer because we bring them, we turn them back, this is required, that is not required, we have to cross this T and dot that I and Belizeans are frustrated. So we are in the process of reviewing all those processes in immigration and to look at the SOPs, those standard operating procedures that we can remove redundancies yet, try and introduce new security features that is not so burdensome that reduce the level of risks."

Channel 7