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Nov 22, 2017

Plans in Train to Revoke Nationalities in 2012 Rush, SolGen Reveals

Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay and Solicitor General Nigel Hawke were on opposite sides of the bar in a different forum this afternoon, specifically at the National Assembly in Belmopan where Hawke was a witness at the Special Senate Select Committee. He was questioned on various legal issues having to do with the work of the Immigration Department and other questions surrounding the Senate inquiry. Two important legal opinions that will shape treatment of those mentioned in the report were discussed today. The first has to do with the process for nationalities granted in the run-up to the 2012 general elections, which have been exposed as haphazard and clearly illegally done. Hawke said that the Solicitor General’s office has and will recommend revocation of illegally granted nationality if the person affected cannot be found and it has been satisfactorily proved that the nationality is not valid.

 

Nigel Hawke

Nigel Hawke, Solicitor General

“The practice I’ve seen is that the Director would usually request, if there is a suspicion of a particular document for nationality, an opinion from the office of the Solicitor General; we would usually render such an opinion. Thereafter, based on the Nationality Act, the Minister has the general power under the law to revoke that nationality once he or she is satisfied that the law, the requirements of the Act, has not been met. Be that as it may, you may have some instances where it is difficult to assume certain issues, so we would usually advise, out of an abundance of caution; we should make all efforts to see if we can contact the person. Barring that, having satisfied yourself that you have made sufficient efforts to contact the person, I think you can then proceed with the issue of revocation. Because in some of them, they’re so palpably bad, you just have to recommend revocation of the nationality.”

 

Eamon Courtenay, P.U.P. Senator

“Prior to my question, had you heard of that list of approximately two thousand people?”

 

Nigel Hawke

“No, no.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“You are not aware that one of the Directors, Miss [Ruth] Meighan, had testified in relation to that list?”

 

Nigel Hawke

“I am aware of her testimony, but not to the extent that it was two thousand that may be out there.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“So, Mr. Solicitor, in relation to that list – let us confine ourselves to that list; whatever the number is. Is there any legal reason why nothing has been done with respect to the persons on that list?”

 

Nigel Hawke

“I don’t think so, but one of the things we have to be very careful of in terms of the list, and I don’t know in terms of that list of two thousand, the various potential jurisdictions from which those persons may have emanated. And that is a critical issue; why I say that, we have a mechanism, a regime under our Mutual Legal Assistance and International Cooperation Act, for us to liaise with certain jurisdictions to inquire of information of persons. So I think, to answer your question directly, no, I don’t think at least from where I sit, in respect of the two thousand you mentioned. It could be we might have dealt with some of those, but we deal with them on a case by case basis, so there’s a possibility out of the set that we’ve advised on it’s part of the two thousand; I am not sure.”

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