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Jul 15, 2020

Senators Debate Report

In her report, the Auditor General found that, “since the law does not provide for ministers to intervene in the visa process, it was illegal for them to do so.” But many ministers still did, by way of so-called recommendations. Ministers such as Elvin Penner, Erwin Contreras, Frank ‘Papa’ Mena and Edmond Castro as well as Hugo Patt were among the ministers who made frequent recommendations for visas approvals.  During the Senate Inquiry, several public officers, who were interrogated, revealed that they felt pressured into facilitating the minister’s request. Some feared that they would be targeted if they did not do so. This particular matter was brought up by Senator Mark Lizarraga who pointed out that even though the culture of corruption within the department was so blatant; no one did anything to stop it. 

 

Mark Lizarraga

Mark Lizarraga, Senator for Private Sector

“We have testimony in reference to director Marin and witness Bart Middleton where both of the in the record showed that there was fear and concern for their lives. We know that there is a tendency for minister to exert undue influence in this process because the ninety percent that were presented that were incomplete. Testimony shows that because it was these people were afraid. The law is very clear in what is a process to obtain a visa, a nationality and then a passport and there is no way under the law, there is no legal way to get your visa, your nationality and your passport in the matter of a few days or in a matter of a few weeks as we have seen in the report on countless occasions. So there was a culture of corruption to the very top, to the very bottom. And we saw Mister President indicated that everybody knew about it and nobody for the most part did anything about it until this report from the Auditor General broke.”

 

Michael Peyrefitte

Michael Peyrefitte, U.D.P. Senator

“I want to dismiss foolishness that somehow you have a bunch of public officers who are so scared of ministers. I have no authority to dismiss them or discipline them in any way. So where does this come from? Just to try to cast some aspersion? Be quiet, I am speaking you don’t like that.”

 

Darrell Bradley, President of the Senate

“Attorney General, not that. I do that.”

 

Michael Peyrefitte

“But you are not doing, Mister President, with all due respect.”

 

Darrell Bradley

Darrell Bradley 

“AG we just want to get through this. Do not because it will invite a response.”

 

Michael Peyrefitte

“All I am saying, Mister President, as one of the ministers who testified in this hearing a recommendation is just a good suggestion. If you can’t get it you say now. Where is the overriding ministerial authority? There is none that I know about. So stop spreading insinuation that ministers threatened people with murder, people are afraid for their lives. It is a dangerous and irresponsible narrative.”


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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