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Letters

Open letter to PM Dickon Mitchell

Nightmare of incompetence at Foreign Affairs

Prime Minister
Mr Dickon Mitchell, MP
Ministerial Complex
Botanical Gardens
St George’s

10 March 2024

Dear Prime Minister,

Re: Elliot Bernard Strachan – application for Grenadian Citizenship

I am writing this open letter to you because I fear should I send it through the normal channel it may not reach you. This letter concerns my personal experience of problems I have had and are still having with members of staff within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with a Citizenship Application for my 5 years old grandson (Elliot Bernard Strachan).

The application was handed in personally on 26 January 2024. It included five relevant requests listed on the “Instruction sheet – Children of Grenadian Parents under 18 Years.”

  • Completed form signed by Justice of the Peace or Notary Public.
  • Four passport size photographs signed by Justice of the Peace or Notary Public.
  • Original and one (1) photocopy of Birth Certificate of applicant with parents’ information.
  • Medical Certificate from a Registered Practitioner.
  • Original and one photocopy Birth Certificate of Grenadian parent. Nothing else was required.

There has been a change in government policy since the above Instruction Form was issued to my family. The Officer I dealt with at the ministry told me that my Grandson’s birth certificate had to be accompanied with a Stamped Apostille. This came as news to me because I hadn’t the foggiest idea what she was talking about.

However, I was given instructions as to how this could be acquired and was told, if my son (the child’s father) contacted the Commonwealth Office in London he can have the various forms stamped, signed and emailed back to the Ministry within 48 hours. Meaning the entire process can be dealt with by electronic email.

I am pleased to say this is exactly what happened and within 48 hours the Ministry had all the information via email as requested. The ministry even confirmed receipt of the document by email.

Three weeks had passed and when I did not hear from the ministry, I emailed to Home Affairs to find out what was holding up the issuing of the Citizenship and was told that electronic copies are not accepted and I would need to produce the original (hard copy). At that time, it was half term in England and my son and family were holidaying in France.

However, a week later the original document was sent urgently vis UPS. The document was held up for an extra week in Miami, Florida but arrived at MBIA on Tuesday 5 March.

On receiving the document, I went straight to the Ministerial Complex Building. I got to the reception on the ground floor at about 12.10 p.m. and was shocked to find the receptionist asleep. When I finally got her attention, she appeared to be in a daze not knowing where she was for that split moment. There was another receptionist to her left in uniform but not in attendance.

When I got to Home Affairs with the documents, I was told that I would need a similar Stamped and signed Apostille to accompany the child’s father’s birth certificate. The copy of my son’s birth certificate that accompanied the application was given back after a photocopy was taken. The ministry had kept it for six weeks before telling me it needs to be accompanied with a signed Apostille.

This sort of cavalier behaviour and attitude towards the public cannot be right and should not be allowed to continue. The treatment of members of the public as dummies has got to stop.

I have had 6 wasted weeks and cannot understand why people in positions of authority in such a sensitive ministry could be so incompetent and at the same time so relaxed about it. No apology has been given which shows the contempt of how applicants are regarded.

Why was I not told that both the child’s and father’s birth certificate must be Authenticated and that only the original hard copy will be acceptable? Why was I not contacted as soon as it was established that the electronic copies were not acceptable?

Why did it had to take my curiosity to be told that electronic copies are not acceptable and why was I told it would be alright to send it by electronic email in the first place knowing that it would not be acceptable? Also, why are application forms given with instruction sheet prior to the change not acceptable?

The Cabinet may have passed the legislation for this change to Citizenship Applications but has an Equality Impact Assessment been carried out to research the effect the change is likely to have on Grenadian siblings in the Diaspora? Has anyone bothered to consider the effect these changes are likely to have on individuals’ mental health?

Since the implementation of this change has anyone bothered to monitor what effect it is having on applicants such as health and welfare? Has the change improved the quality of service or is it causing bottlenecks with applications; and if so, what remedial action has the Minister proposed to take to remedy the situation?

Finally, what about staff training to ensure applications are dealt with in an effective, efficient and professional manner?

I am not at all happy with the incompetence and unprofessional way my family and I have been treated so far. Surely, we cannot be the only Nationals that have been messed about by members of staff at this ministry who just don’t seem to have any professional experience of how to deal with members of the general public.

My hope is for changes to be made soon, so the public can receive an improved, efficient and effective service. ‘Get it right first time’ should be the Motto. God bless Grenada.

PS: Radix Avenue has the worst potholes in St George North East

I have written to Ron Redhead, MP about this on behalf of residents about a month ago. Vegetation has taken over the drains preventing surface water flow within them resulting in water flowing across the road. A number of potholes have developed as a direct result.

The road surface has now deteriorated to such an extent that two large potholes have opened causing problems for motorists as well as pedestrians. The MP’s office has promised to carry out repairs but so far, there has been no delivery. We would accordingly be grateful if you would offer your support and help. Thank you.

Winston Strachan
Radix Avenue, Radix
Mount Parnassus