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Government implements full stiffer immigration controls

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Contact: Primus Hutchinson

Monday, April 14, 2003 - Minister for Home Affairs and Gender Relations, the Honourable Sarah Flood Beaubrun indicated that her ministry has quickly implemented full control measures at the Immigration Department to effectively address the administration of passports. Mrs. Flood- Beaubrun also added that even locals are now required to fill exit immigration forms when leaving the country for any length of time.

According to the Home Affairs Minister, these measures were instituted in response to a decision by the Cabinet of Ministers to ensure that St. Lucia remains a haven for visitors and citizens alike. Mrs. Flood- Beaubrun who was at the time making her contribution to the 2003-2004 Budget debate last week, expressed serious concerns regarding the manner in which criminals were able to escape from the country undetected.

She said “We had a situation here in St. Lucia, where a prisoner left the country and nobody knew until he was identified in Barbados. Now if that had been in place he would have had to go through that system and it would have been noted right there. So Mr. Speaker, effective 17th March 2003, full exit control have been instituted.”

Minister Flood-Beaubrun also announced that Government has already instructed its overseas missions to implement tighter control for issuing visas for persons wishing to travel to St. Lucia. Of even more concern to the Home Affairs Minister, are the frequent reports by citizens to the Immigration Department, of misplaced passports.

She said, last year fifty two passports were re-issued after having lost or destroyed passports. She stated that this practice must cease and persons will have to give very good reasons for a replacement. The Minister also indicated that the Immigration Department will lengthen the time it takes to issue a new passport in order to enhance security.

According to the Minister, emergency passports will only be issued after the applicant has satisfactory produced real proof of an emergency, such as medical documents authenticated by a medical institution.

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