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Call for a child passport

The Immigration and Passport Office is located at the Botanical Gardens

A retired Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) is calling on the Dickon Mitchell-led Congress government to look at creating a passport for children at a lower cost to families as part of its transformational agenda to improve the operations of the Immigration Department of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF).

The ex-cop who spoke to THE NEW TODAY on condition that he was not identified by name said that Immigration is a major Security apparatus of the police force and the 20-month old administration must not see it as just providing a service in the issuing of passports.

He recalled that the idea was first mooted by former Immigration Chief Godfrey Flemming several years ago but should be relooked at although the High Command members at the time did not give it any serious consideration.

He said the “child passport” will not be a new document but the same passports that are issued by the Immigration Department to citizens.

According to the retired senior police officer, the Cabinet of Ministers can use their powers to set the age limit for a child who will qualify to get the passport at a lower cost and lower the financial burdens on their parents.

It’s the same passport but the fee will decrease,” he said, adding that parents will often have to find additional funds to cover the cost if the child loses, misplaced or damages a passport.

The retired cop is confident that Grenadians will welcome the creation of a child passport by the Dickon Mitchell-led government as children should not be subjected to the same passport fee as adults.

He also suggested that under a Transformational Agenda, there are several other things that the Immigration and Passport office can get involved in as part of enhancement of their work on behalf of the State.

He called for new policy directives to be put in place for certain decisions to be taken at the level of the Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister of National Security or the Minister of Home affairs, or even under the Permanent Secretary in charge of the portfolio.

The former senior police officer suggested that not every “little thing” should be sent to the Cabinet of Ministers for approval but mundane things can simple be done by making a presentation to the relevant minister or Permanent Secretary.

“It has enough little things that you could take off the burden and off the back of people applying for passports without compromising security. So while you easing up the burden you tightening security,” he remarked.

The ex-ACP in RGPF also called for a relook of the issuing of passports under the passport-selling scheme known as Citizenship By Investment (CBI) that came into existence under the former New National Party (NNP) regime of Keith Mitchell.

He said it should be made mandatory that all CBI clients must subject themselves to an interview at the local Passport office before the document is given to them.

“These CBI people and them that apply for passports – you will never see these people and them coming to Grenada as how you will have a national applying for a passport for the very first time. They (the foreigners) must come in person for them to be interviewed.”

“If they are applying for the passport and they already have a passport and you didn’t even know the person you can have an interview with them as how you do with your nationals.”

“These people and them must come to Grenada – at least one visit – on expiration of their passport so they can get a renewal or the new passport, so you as Immigration having that face-to-face contact now and then you can have a proper control of those things and them.”

The ex-cop recalled that years ago the Passport Office worked alongside the Parliamentary Elections Office (PEO) to assist with non-nationals coming into the country and seeking a Voter’s ID card.

He said: “What we had established is that whenever these people and them come, they (PEO) send the name to the Immigration Department where we will verify their status and then send it back to the Parliamentary Office if they have to issue this Voter’s IDs (because) their status must be in sync with the requirements (of the law)” to get a passport (and) meeting the requirements of time spent in Grenada in order to qualify,” he said.

The ex-cop stressed that “all these things were going so good until they crashed it” under the NNP regime of Keith Mitchell.

Speculation is rife that the former rulers tinkered with the system in order to facilitate a number of questionable non-nationals to obtain ID cards to vote in general elections in Grenada.

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