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Nov 22, 2013

Senior Counsel pokes holds in proposed legislation of National Security and Immigration Committee

Whatever happened to the National Security and Immigration Committee? The formation of the committee was announced in the wake of the recent passport and visa scandals as one of the measures to prevent further corruption in the immigration department. But it is yet to convene a meeting to scrutinize proposed amendments to three existing pieces of legislation pertaining to immigration and nationality.  An initial date was set for the inaugural meeting to be held on November eleventh, but that was postponed to last Thursday.  And earlier that day, a memo was issued by the Clerk of the National Assembly informing the public that the meeting was delayed and this time, indefinitely.  The proposed amendments were tabled before the House of Representatives during its last sitting on November first. But the three bills: the Immigration Amendment Bill, the Belize Nationality Amendment Bill and the Passport Amendment Bill, are said to be poorly drafted and merely a set of cosmetic changes to archaic laws.  The Belize Nationality Amendment Bill 2013, designed to be airtight against unqualified persons attempting to obtain nationality, purportedly falls short of its objective since it focuses solely on nationality by registration; the applicant having proved that he or she has been residing in Belize continuously for five years.  That bill, however, makes way for the creation of the Nationality Scrutinizing Committee.  That body, which should include the participation of government’s social partners, is already under fire since the decisions of the sitting minister cannot be vetoed by the members of the committee.  Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay, has poked holes in the proposed legislation in an article in a past issue of the Amandala Newspaper. Courtenay points out that the bill does no designate who will be the chair or vice-chair of the NSC.  Furthermore, there are no provisions for how many and which members will form a quorum, nor are there stipulations to determine how decisions will be taken.  On the issue of the Immigration (Amendment) Bill 2013, Courtenay says that a Visa Vetting Committee, consisting of a number of ministry C.E.O.s, lacks statutory powers and since it is made up of government appointees there is no requirement for publication of its work.  On the other hand, Courtenay says the Passports Act, which is antiquated, needs to be modernized since the proposed amendments provide no deterrence from the commission of related crimes.  It is unclear when the newly-formed committee will be called together, until then it appears that there are more questions than answers.

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2 Responses for “Senior Counsel pokes holds in proposed legislation of National Security and Immigration Committee”

  1. Trust UDP, then don't think says:

    Who cares?

    It is just another criminal scheme to cover up their crimes.

    The fox guards the chicken coop, three card Monty is the name of this committee.

  2. ceo says:

    Please keep their feet to the fire on this one. When ever no one is punished it shows that it was the hireups who were involved.

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