Skerrit attacks Linton-again
Prime Minister Skerrit responds to CBS's 60 Minutes "Passports for Sale"
He apologized. A British-Dominican man who suggested yesterday on YouTube that Leader of the Opposition Lennox Linton should be arrested and then executed for his interview with CBS's 60 Minutes on Sunday has stated, on YouTube, that he was sorry for the threats.
And Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit was in damage-control mode at a press conference at the State House today after CBS, an American television company, slammed Dominica's and the Caribbean's Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programmes claiming that they were attractants for crooks and criminals who want to avoid the law.
CBS's 60 Minutes "Passports for Sale" was broadcast on New Year's Day and featured Lennox Linton, the Political Leader of the opposition United Workers Party. Linton was, as usual, critical of Dominica's CBI programme claiming that it lacked transparency and accountability.
Well, who tell him say dat?
Since that programme, and even before it was broadcast, government and officials of the ruling Dominica Labour Party accused Linton of treachery,economic terrorism and a hunger for getting his face on international television.
And Prime Minister Skerrit made the accusations official at the press conference today.
Responding to the criticism that Dominica's CBI programme was not above-board, PM Skerrit said:
"We have explained ad nauseum how the CBI Programme works and Linton is more than aware of that. Let me once again, stress that the CBI Programme is governed by legislation, and persons seeking citizenship of Dominica under the CBI have to undergo a most rigorous, yet transparent, due diligence exercise, that involves criminal, character and ethics checks, by international law enforcement agencies and authorities and due diligence agencies".
He added: "While it is no longer mandatory for face to face interviews to be done, it may be required if deemed necessary. Once due diligence reports are received, a committee of Government officials, review all of the documentation before recommending the granting of citizenship. If there is any doubt or concern, further questions or vetting will take place. In no instance is citizenship granted to any one, if the due diligence checks do not pass muster".
"Let me turn now to the issue of diplomatic passports. We have said more than once that diplomatic passports are not sold under the CBI Programme or otherwise. We categorically refute the allegation that diplomatic passports are being sold by this Government as alleged or at all. It is regrettable that even in the face of constant denial and complete lack of any evidence that Mr. Linton would persist and insist on repeating his lies that such a practice exists" he said.
"Over the years we have had many outstanding non-Dominicans offer their services free of charge to Dominica in their countries of origin. They have served as our Ambassadors and Trade Investment Commissioners, in parts of the World where we are unable to be represented by Nationals.
"In a few instances one or two of those persons have found themselves at odds with the law, but this was never prior to or known to me or the Government before we considered them. On the very rare occasions when this occurred, immediate action was taken to revoke their appointments as appropriate".
[The CBS programme said the Dominican Government had issued diplomatic passports to at least persons who had problems with the law.
Skerrit said Rudolph King "never applied for or was ever granted a passport of any sort, whether service, official or diplomatic, by the government of Dominica"; Francisco Corallo also was not a Dominican diplomatic passport holder and Diezani Alison- Madueke, a former Head of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and senior Minister of the Government of Nigeria also did not receive a diplomatic passport from the Skerrit administration.