29 Dec 2011

Vanuatu politician says New Zealand should rethink aid to passport office

4:13 pm on 29 December 2011

Vanuatu's former minister of foreign affairs, Joe Natuman, is urging the New Zealand Government to reconsider the aid it has given to Vanuatu to help it produce biometric passports.

Mr Natuman made the call after reports that the passport office has been directed to print diplomatic passports for five Chinese nationals.

Last year the New Zealand government provided aid assistance to allow Vanuatu to produce passports to a high international standard and to curb abuses.

One intention was to stop government ministers selling Vanuatu passports to foreign nationals and Mr Natuman brought in amendments earlier this year to the Passport Act to ensure this.

But last month the coalition government of Prime Minister Sato Kilman amended the law to allow foreign nationals to hold Vanuatu diplomatic passports and to represent the country as diplomats.

Mr Natuman says through this move Vanuatu is legalising corruption by selling its identity.