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Jul 14, 2020

Draft Senate Report on Immigration Scandal Under Review

A long-delayed draft senate report being compiled by Senator Aldo Salazar on the immigration scandal of 2013 is being reviewed by his peers in the upper house.  The scandal associated former Minister of State Elvin Penner with South Korean fugitive Wong Hong Kim and revolved around the issuance of a Belizean passport to Kim, who was in prison in Taiwan.  On Sunday, we caught up with Senator Salazar who gave an update on the revision of the preliminary version of the document.  That process comes two years after the Senate Special Select Committee concluded its inquiry into the immigration scandal.

 

Aldo Salazar, U.D.P. Senator

“The document that underlies that is about two thousand pages which is what we had to work with to come up with the draft.”

 

Reporter

“Will there be, my understanding was that recommendations could have been made to the D.P.P. in terms of any possible criminal or is it that the D.P.P. looks at the document and then she decides?”

 

Aldo Salazar

Aldo Salazar

“No the D.P.P. could have decided from the inception.  In fact, during the public hearings we did send information to the Director of Public Prosecutions, so the DPP has always had that power to look at anything from inception and to determine whether or not there was anybody that she wanted to investigate or to have any charges brought.  And I can say this, the draft report, the minority report that now exists does make recommendations for her to look at the material before the product of the committee’s report and to make a determination whether any charges should be brought.  The committee itself does not have any standing to say that, to recommend that charges be brought because that is not the role of the committee and I think that had the committee gotten into that we would have then be obscuring our role and then we would have been subject to challenge because I don’t think we can really do that.”

 

Reporter

“I recall that you had been on visits… to the Immigration Department and it was stated publicly that some recommendations had already been or were being implemented.  What is your observation of those?”

 

Aldo Salazar

“Well, you will recall that at the time when the committee started its hearing which have been towards the end of 2016, the Wong Hong Kim scandal had already broken and therefore the department had already reacted and the government had already reacted to that scandal by taking certain steps.  So one of the steps, for example, was a vetting committee for visas which never existed before.  Some of the things that we were looking at had already been addressed and that is addressed in the draft that I did and the amended report that the other senators have agreed to, has already addressed the fact that some of those things were already looked at and we’re looking at a situation where some things have already been addressed and the situation is whether we… the report will show that we need to enhance some more, a little bit more, some of the things that we were doing in the department.”


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