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Aug 29, 2002

Commission of inquiry to review Immigration Dept.

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The ongoing investigation into the latest scandal to emerge from the Immigration Department has taken an unexpected turn. This morning, a government issued press release announced that Prime Minister Said Musa has appointed an independent commission of inquiry to review the immigration processes and make relevant recommendations for improvements. Heading the commission is Ombudsman Paul Rodriguez, with assistance from Bishop Sylvester Romero Palma and accountant Mark Hulse. As we understand, the commission is being asked to conduct a separate critique outside the bounds of the police’s investigation. According to the release, the motive behind the PM’s decision follows a preliminary report from the police into allegations of serious improprieties and irregularities at the Immigration Department. But of note is that the release fails to mention illegalities, even though the accusations include the sale of passports after the economic citizenship programme had been cancelled in January of this year. While the information gathered by the commission is sure to prove valuable, as the P.M. maintained earlier this month, the commission cannot charge anyone with wrongdoing.

Prime Minister Said Musa

“This business of talking about Commissions of Inquiry, I think we need to understand that a Commission of Inquiry is no panacea to solving problems. It can investigate, but it can’t do more than a police investigation can do, in fact they have to rely on the police. But the point is that under the law a Commission of Inquiry is not there to carry out criminal investigations. Criminal investigations are carried out by the police; that’s our system and we must have faith and confidence in our police.”

According to the government press office, the police investigation is ongoing and their preliminary findings have not been made public.

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