A recent investigation ordered by Prime Minister Said Musa
into irregularities in the processing and issuance of Belizean nationality and
passports at the Department of Immigration has led to a number of results. It
should be noted that the Economic Citizenship Program was officially terminated
on January 15th, 2002, yet
several nationality applicants have received their passports, allegedly without
residing in Belize for the specified period of time.
Monday, July 29th, Chief
Executive Officer of the Ministry of Home Affairs Alan Usher concluded his
report and submitted his findings. Last Wednesday, August 7th, Prime Minister Musa disclosed those
findings and made recommendations in a live broadcast. Excerpts of his speech
are contained in the following paragraphs.
PM Musa stated
"The report recommended further police investigations. A full and comprehensive
investigation is now underway." The PM continued that since the ministry
responsible for immigration is also responsible for the police, it could give
the impression that the police would not be able to do justice to the situation.
So, to remove any potential or perceived conflict of interest, Minister of Home
Affairs Maxwell Samuels resigned his office, effective that day. On the other
hand, later in his speech, the PM stated he turned over "The Usher Report" and
other relevant documentation to the Commissioner of Police who assigned Senior
Superintendent Bernard Lino and Assistant Superintendent Justo Augustine to
expedite a thorough investigation, "no matter where such investigation may
lead." This would still appear to be a conflict of interest as the police are
the agency responsible for checking into the backgrounds and determining the
security clearance of nationality applicants. To top things off, without
determining whether there was any wrongdoing on the part of Maxwell Samuels, the
PM, in another Cabinet re-shuffling, appointed him Minister of Communications,
Transport and Public Utilities.
decisions by the PM led government policy watchdogs, the Society for the
Promotion of Education and Research (SPEAR) and the Association of National
Development Agencies (ANDA) to both call on the government for a more
independent commission of inquiry into the matter. After the speech, the PM
responded to a similar request stating, "We have moved beyond that- commissions
of inquiry do not engage under the law in criminal investigations." He stated
that his low-level police investigation had already gone further than a
high-level commission of inquiry would or could. The PM expressed confidence in
the fair investigation.
Moving on with his speech, PM Musa
stated, "There are various policies that will be critical for
ensuring the proper functioning of the Department of Immigration and for
restoring the confidence and trust of the Belizean people in this department
that is so vital to the national interest. They are: 1. Colonel Peter Parchue, a
20-year veteran of the Belize Defense Force, has been appointed to the post of
Director of Immigration. His appointment reflects not only his qualifications
but also emerging security concerns inherent to the issues of immigration and
migration. Furthermore, immediate steps have been taken to ensure the integrity
of the nationality and passport applications such as: requiring applicants to
submit applications in person, subjecting all such applications to legal
vetting, and eliminating, once and for all, the role of immigration consultants
and agents. 2. The Solicitor General has been directed to carry out a
comprehensive revision of the Belizean Nationality Act with the clear objective
of removing all opportunities and potential for fraud or abuse that may exist.
3. Cabinet will be considering proposals and recommendations for an overall
Immigration Policy, the foundation of which should include protecting and
developing the interests of all Belizeans. 4. The Usher Report, together with
other relevant documents, has been turned over to the Commissioner of Police who
has assigned Senior Superintendent Bernard Lino and Assistant Superintendent
Justo Augustine to expedite a thorough investigation, no matter where such
investigation may lead. I wish to assure the Belizean people that the police
investigation into this matter will proceed free and clear of any political
At the end of
his speech, the Prime Minister "decided to make the following
Cabinet changes: As Prime Minister, the only portfolio I intend to hold is the
Ministry of Finance. This will allow me more scope and time to focus on the
effective coordination and direction of government with particular emphasis on
the overall macro-economic strategy for sustainable growth and financial
management of the economy.
The Deputy Prime Minister will
assume the Ministry of Trade, along with his existing portfolios of Natural
Resources, Environment and Industry.
propose to appoint the Honorable Vildo Marin as Minister of Works and Economic
The Ministry of Budget Management will
assume responsibility for the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The Department of Immigration will be transferred to the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and Cooperation.
The former Minister of Home
Affairs and Immigration will now be responsible for the Ministry of
Communications, Transport and Public Utilities.
Minister of Tourism and Culture will assume the portfolio of Information and
The Prime Minister ended
his speech stating, "In these times of rapid change and complex
challenges, managing the business of government requires constant refinement and
adjustment. The announcements I make today, I believe, will build on the many
successes achieved during the past four years, as we continue to deepen our
democracy and work to improve the quality of life for the Belizean