The Immigration Department is in the process of making a series of changes to enhance the sanctity of the process that one must go through to acquire a Belizean passport or other form of documentation.
The crackdown comes on the heels of the recent incident at the Department’s Belize City office, where Rafic Mohammad Labbon Allaboun, an alleged Hezbollah terrorist, managed to get a Belizean passport bearing another person’s name, in less than 48 hours!
Allaboun managed to obtain his passport, according to the Immigration Supervisor who approved his application, by merely showing him what looked like a Belizean Social Security identification card. As it turned out, that card was a forged document.
While the Police Department has started a criminal investigation, the Immigration Department is, in the words of Minister of Immigration, Godwin Hulse, ensuring internally “that people who were part and parcel of these things [processes] have been shuffled around a bit.” The Minister explained a new process through which one will now have to go step by step in order for anyone to prove they are who they claim to be.
The process, according to Minister Hulse, will begin from the point where the person engages a Justice of the Peace to sign off on his or her application form and passport pictures.
The onus will also now be on the applicant to prove that he or she is Belizean, by either natural birth, descent or registration.
By extension, even JP’s will be held accountable hereafter if they are found to signing documents for people whom they don’t really know.
Without alluding to what specific measures are being undertaken, Minister Hulse said there will have to be a check and balance system in place on all fronts.
The Minister assures that when the loopholes are closed, no one will be able to penetrate the system to carry out fraudulent activities, as is believed to have happened in Allaboun’s case.