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Nov 13, 2017

Fixing Nationality and Identification

Beverly Williams

On Friday, some fifty-seven new citizens were sworn in at the George Price Center in Belmopan. Their nationality certificates are of a different kind than the one found on Yuanran Zheng – they contain additional and new security features to protect against counterfeiting and con artistry. Minister of State Beverly Williams made note that in the Zheng case his forged document was attempted to be passed off as a replacement of an original certificate, but the ruse did not work. Williams also spoke of plans for a national identification system which would take pressure off of the Social Security Board and Vital Statistics Unit as weak points for unscrupulous individuals to obtain Belizean identity fraudulently.

 

Beverly Williams, Minister of State, Immigration

“I am hoping that the public will be comforted by the fact that we no longer use those certificates that are being replicated at this time. We have built a new system, with security features to avoid this very same thing happening. What they really presented was a certificate signed sometime ago and which they claimed to be a replacement in 2007, from that specific one. So it is presented as a replacement of the original certificate which was that cardboard-looking certificate, but as I have said that has been replaced. We are fairly comfortable – and we will review that even now, in light of what is happening, to ensure that the features are as safe as we can get. We are a part of that discussion that is ongoing, and we again recognize what that can do for us. Whether it’s a national ID, strengthening the laws, it seems that most of the agencies, even though we try to coordinate outside of a well-designed information system, we will often ask Vital Statistics to certify or Social Security, and I believe that is why we were able to look at that recent case, and to have dealt with it so quickly.”

 

The Minister of State has said that those with the older certificates are encouraged to bring them in to get the new ones. She is also on record as supporting the loosening of the passport system that was established in the wake of the Won Hong Kim scandal, stating that while security is still a priority, she wants Belizeans to be less frustrated in terms of fulfilling the requirements to obtain the document.

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