Thursday, September 20, 2012 – The Government of Saint Lucia has officially responded to the imposition of a visa requirement on Saint Lucians travelling to Canada due to the sustained flow of asylum claimants to Canada and a high rate of immigration violations.
In an official response from the Office of the Prime Minister, government has expressed regret at the decision which it called “an unfortunate blow”.
Acting Press Secretary Winston Springer says the Government of Saint Lucia has issued a recommendation to Canada to address the issue of security and immigration violations which is a mutual concern to both countries in a collaborative manner.
“Saint Lucians and indeed the Prime Minister believe the Canadian Government will be aware that the problem of persons seeking entry to North America as a whole, has severely taxed the resources and capabilities of the government authorities here over the years. The fact is that a serious effort to inhibit these illegal activities would require extremely close co-operation between them, and our police and immigration officials, in circumstances albeit of strict confidentiality and with appropriate security arrangements. The Government of Saint Lucia is willing to enter into discussions with the Canadian authorities to put such an initiative in place as quickly as possible, and awaits further discussions and an appropriate response from the Government of Canada”.
Notwithstanding, the Acting Press Secretary says the Government of Saint Lucia is distressed by what it views a blanket statement emanating from “ Citizenship and Immigration Canada.”
In the statement the agency claims the visa requirements were imposed on Saint Lucia because of unreliable travel documents.
“While it is true that the current law allows Saint Lucians to adopt new names by Deed Poll, and that includes those who may have been convicted of crimes, the vast majority of Saint Lucians who travelled to Canada had safe, reliable and secure documents. The statement by Canada is unfortunate as it could create unfair and undue suspicion about travel documents held by Saint Lucians, with the accompanying extreme personal discomfort that such situations can entail”.
Prime Minister Honourable Dr Kenny D Anthony will shortly be dispatching a letter to the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper urging him to reconsider the decision of the Government of Canada.
The two countries have shared exceedingly close ties for many years.