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Sep 6, 2017

No repeat of Won Hong Kim, Director says

The Senate Committee has heard many different explanations for how Won Hong Kim’s picture got into the Belize Passport Information System despite his never having been in Belize – that a doppelganger went to the passport office; that a photo of his passport picture was taken and entered in the system, and others. But none seem satisfactory. Today, Director of Immigration Diana Locke was asked what steps had been taken concerning the issue, since Belize’s hands are tied with regard to the passport system. It has mostly to do with putting eyes on the outside office, and impressing the need for trust on the part of junior officers. She also reported that the Immigration Department is not investigating the matter at current, but the police are holding the relevant documents.

 

Diana Locke, Director of Immigration

Diana Locke

“Because of the structure of the physical location of that unit, what I would like to see – which we have not be able to do – is to create a glass wall that the supervisor can actually look outside, but it’s not possible for us to reconfigure that room for that to happen, so from time to time the supervisor and different persons walk outside. One of the things that we have actually done is to, in the recent transfers, we have brought another Immigration officer to be posted to the passport section. We recognize that there is a need for another supervisor to be outside in that physical area, and that’s where that officer is physically posted, as she approves application; she’s physically sitting out there, keeping an eye on people coming back and forth, it’s not to say that everything will be perfect because if you are concentrating on approving an application, you will not see everything that happens. We have tried to minimize the number of people that are sitting in that room at any time; there are cameras that are there so we can hopefully go back and look at something if it is caught early enough and it is recorded. And so those are things we have tried to do to at least strengthen that process. In the new location that we are moving to, we have ensured a wall, a door, a glass door and window that will be looking into the data capture. Again, we have tried to move to appointment system, so that when people come in, you don’t have that large number of people to deal with there, because that always creates room for confusion. And with that controlled environment, hopefully one will be able to see what is going on. A system is only as good as the people who operate it, and we have to try to make sure that the people who operate it are people we find to be trustworthy, committed and want to see the best for our country.”

 

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Business Community

“The short answer to all of that is it is still possible to take a picture of a picture?”

 

Diana Locke

“If that’s what was done, it’s possible, yes; it’s possible. I don’t think it would happen now. We have different players, we have different officers; I think the officers understand what has happened; I think people are willing to work to see things change; I think we have learned a lot from this hearing.”

 

Locke noted that police currently have the Kim passport and nationality certificate which had originally been handed over to Minister Hulse, but she was unable to say what investigation, if any, was going on at the moment. We will have more from the hearing in Thursday’s newscast.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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