19 Dec 2007

TI Vanuatu calls for thorough review of issued diplomatic passports

6:55 pm on 19 December 2007

Transparency International's Vanuatu chapter has welcomed the move by the country's Foreign Minister George Wells to cancel 40 unlawfully issued diplomatic passports.

The government says that at present there are around 250 registered Vanuatu diplomatic passports issued, which TI's Marie Noelle Ferrieux Patterson calls excessive for a small country.

She says TI will push for a list of all those passport holders to be published and a review of the way the posts are granted.

As Vanuatu's former ombudsman for five years in the 1990s Ms Ferrieux Patterson investigated the problem in its infancy.

But she says that although the practice of illegally issuing diplomatic passports only grew since then, it's encouraging to see the Minister now taking action.

"At least one action that he's taken by the own iniative to sort out the problem, so yes I think everyone would congratulate such an initiative and basically push the Minister to go through the other 21o passports and review them thoroughly."

TI's Marie Noelle Ferrieux Patterson