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Oct 16, 2013

Opposition and business community both want independent investigations into scandal

Lisa Shoman

After much public outrage and an overwhelming demand for a criminal investigation into the illegal issuance of nationality certificates and passports at the Immigration and Nationality Department, the Belize Police Department has been called in to investigate. The extent of that investigation is not known, but no less than the commissioner of police says they are not looking at the former minister of state who signed off on the documents.  The opposition, People’s United Party, also wants to see a senate-led inquiry into the alleged sale of Belizean passports.  The business community has also called for an independent commission of inquiry but it is yet to pronounce on the proposed senate investigation.  The Leader of Government Business Senator Godwin Hulse, who is also the minister responsible for immigration, has been asked for his support in launching that official review.  The purpose, according to opposition senator Lisa Shoman, is not to replace any of the existing investigations.

 

Lisa Shoman, P.U.P. Senator

“I think the Leader of Government Business in the Senate has made much during the S.S.B. issues and I understand that a lot of people feel that, quote on quote, nothing happened.  But here’s the thing Sharon, unless and until we actually carry it out and carry it out according to the standing orders with the senators participating in the way that the standing orders makes clear that we can, bringing in people, calling for records, interviewing people on the basis of those records, having the hearings and having those hearings to be made public.  That is how we are going to find out what has been happening and then there is a clear procedure for laying that before the senate and for the senate to have a proper investigation.  What I am saying is that a senate investigation is not meant to replace a criminal investigation nor is meant to take the place of what the D.P.P. does.  What it is meant to do is to say to the world that we are very serious about getting to the bottom of understanding what happened, how it happened, how far it went and what is going to be put in place so that Belizeans can be assured that this is never going to happen again.  I think in and of itself that is an important thing that is an important function.  I want to make it very clear that it is no part of any move of the P.U.P. to try and step on anybody else’s territory.  The police have to investigate, the D.P.P. has to investigate but the senate also has to carry on its function and I see it working in the same way that senate hearings are held in the United States.”

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