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Government to cancel opposition diplomatic passports if not returned to the State

Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge.

by Zena Henry

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will again request the return of diplomatic passports still in the possession of the former People’s Progressive Party (PPP) administration. Almost three months after the former government lost in the 2015 General and Regional Elections, none of the diplomatic travel documents have been returned, despite being told to do so and giving that undertaking.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge told Demerara Waves Thursday July 30 that at a earlier held meeting of the transition committee, “the outgoing government undertook to inform its members of a number of things that belong to State needed to be returned, and those included passports.”

When asked whether those privileged documents were returned, Greenidge said, “At this point in time, I don’t think so.” He noted however that government has means at their disposal for dealing with that matter.

Explaining the importance of the documents, Greenidge said, “We will have to do something about this, either to have them return it, or cancel them,” and this will be done “soon,” he said.

The foreign minister said that Diplomatic passports are such as a ‘Laissez-Passer’ travel document issued by a national government or certain organizations. “You are saying to a government that this person represents the State of Guyana and they will behave in accordance with that status.” This means that the State representative, “within the normal description will exercise or grant reciprocal privileges which would include, special immigration lines, among other benefits.”

These documents should be used when on official international State travel and residence, Greenidge said. Accredited diplomats of certain grades may be granted diplomatic immunity by a host country, but this is not automatically conferred by holding a diplomatic passport.

On that note, Greenidge said it is a “serious matter,” insisting that the documents must be returned. “You don’t give diplomatic passports to everyone because those you give diplomatic passports should be accountable-if you like- to the State and the Presidency.”

He said all members of the former Cabinet would have received diplomatic passports along with other calibers of persons. “There are other categories of passports,” the minister clarified. He noted, for instance, that the Diplomats themselves would have diplomatic passports.

It was explained by the country’s immigration arm that all applications for diplomatic passports are made and granted through the office of the Foreign Affairs Ministry.