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Aug 31, 2016

Senate Hears Motion for Inquiry into Immigration Audits

Michel Chebat

Just before six this evening, the senate concluded proceedings with a vote that defeated a motion for a senate investigation. It was a long session that had to do with a number of motions including the passage of two supplementary appropriation bills as well as the debate on the Special Audit of the Immigration and Nationality Departments in the period 2011 and 2013. The debate on both issues was long and winding. First we go to the debate on the scandalous special audit report on visas, nationality and passports. A motion for an independent investigation into the Immigration and Nationality Department was placed before the Senate by the Opposition. A division was called and when the votes were cast, it went five in favor and seven against, including the vote from the churches, represented by Ashley Rocke, who first indicated he would support a senate select inquiry, but then voted against it. We start with Senator Michel Chebat for the P.U.P.

 

Michel Chebat, P.U.P. Senator

“Made public disclosure as to the findings of certain improprieties and irregularities in the processing and issuance of nationality, visas and passports issued by the Ministry of Immigration and Nationality. And whereas such public disclosures and public allegations are a matter of public importance and require that the senate exercise its power and fulfill its functions under the constitution of Belize to conduct an inquiry into and investigate every and all irregularities in the issuance of nationality certificates, passports and visas, including an inquiry into mismanagement or corruption in the Ministry of Immigration and Nationality by any person in central government or public statutory bodies in relation to the same. Be it resolved that the senate shall approve the appointment pursuant of standing order number sixty-nine of a special committee of the senate with the following terms of reference and composition. Terms of reference: to investigate and inquire into all policies, processes, procedures in the issuance of nationality, visas and passports in the Ministry of Immigration and Nationality and to investigate any and all irregularities and improprieties as well as any and all wrongdoing, mismanagement or corruption in the issuance of nationality, passports and visas for the period January first 2011 to December thirty-first 2013. Be it to require the attendance before the committee of chief executive officers of the Ministries of Immigration and Nationality pursuant to section 6182G of the Constitution of Belize. To require the attendance before the committee of those ministers named by the Auditor General in the special audit of immigration and nationality department for the period of January 2011 to December 2013. Be it to require the attendance before the committee of the Director of Immigration and all such public officers in the ministry of immigration and nationality pursuant to standing order 72 (3) of the senate standing orders as well as of the production of all relevant papers and records of the ministry of immigration as may be necessary to conduct its inquiry and investigation. To examine all such persons required to attend before the committee as witnesses pursuant to standing orders 72 of the seven standing orders; to hold and conduct its sittings and meetings in public; to deliberate on the matters before in private sittings of the committee and to issue a report thereon to the senate. And two, composition of special select committee. The special select committee should be comprised of five senators—be it one from the senators appointed by the government; one selected by the leader of the opposition and three senators appointed by the social partners.”

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