Opposition party wants 'real reasons' for UK visa threat
ROSEAU, Dominica (CMC):
The opposition Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) has called on Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit to give "the real reasons" Britain is seeking to impose visa requirements on Dominicans wishing to visit the United Kingdom in the near future.
The party said that the prime minister's attempt to blame citizens for London's decision is misleading, and noted that "concerns have been expressed about foreigners in possession of Dominican passports who have attempted to violate the immigration laws of major countries.
"The Dominica Freedom Party therefore calls on Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit to disclose the real reasons why the British Government is considering such a step," the party said in a statement.
Earlier this week, Britain's High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Paul Brummel, held talks with Prime Minister Skerrit, and later told reporters he hoped there would not be a need for imposing the visa requirements on Dominicans.
His visit here comes less than a week after London announced it had written to five Caribbean governments, including Dominica, indicating that while their nationals will continue to enter the country without a visa, the matter is being re-evaluated.
Home Secretary Alan Johnson said London had also written to the Dominica and St Lucia governments, highlighting a number of concerns and giving them a six-month period to deal with them.
The DFP recalled that similar measures had been taken by Canada several years ago, and warned that "if urgent measures are not immediately put in place to safeguard the integrity of Dominican passports, the United Kingdom (UK) government will follow suit as they have indicated."
The party said that it was also urging Skerrit "to properly investigate this matter with a high level of transparency so as to reassure the United Kingdom government that Dominicans traveling to the UK do not pose a security risk to that country."
Earlier this month, Skerrit announced that his administration would review the economic citizenship programme following the statement by Johnson.
Prime Minister Skerrit said that his administration had already taken steps to have the indiscriminate sale of Dominican passports curtailed in an effort to deal with the problem.
"We should pay closer attention and demand more information from persons applying for Dominican citizenship. Over the last several months we have been very strict in respect to the granting of citizenship to persons who applied," he said.