12 Oct 2009

Authority for issuance of Vanuatu passports to move to new agency

1:30 pm on 12 October 2009

Vanuatu's government will create a new agency to oversee the issuance of all passports after problems with foreign holders of Vanuatu diplomatic passports overseas.

Last month, the Foreign Minister Joe Natuman issued letters of termination to 40 foreigners who had been made Vanuatu representatives by previous administrations.

These include honorary consuls, trade commissioners and diplomats at UN agencies.

This followed reports that diplomatic visas had been sold by Vanuatu officials in China for about 4000 US dollars, allowing the holders to use of the visas in international gambling places like Macau.

Concern has also been raised about the misuse of these passports in Europe.

Mr Natuman says the government is re-shaping the legislation around the issuance of diplomatic passports.

"We will be looking at repealing the current Diplomatic Passport Act and we will be shifting the responsibility for issuing of diplomatice passports from foreign affairs to this new authority which will be responsible for everything to do with passports."

Joe Natuman