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Dominican public sector supports inquiry into citizenship programme after protests

Saturday, February 11, 2017

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ROSEAU, Dominica (CMC) — The Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU) says it views as “reasonable” a call for a Commission of Inquiry into the controversial Citizenship by Investment Programme (CBI) even as it condemned the violence and vandalism that led to the destruction of several buildings in the capital earlier this week.
Dominica is one of several Caribbean countries where the CBI has been implemented. It allows for foreign investors to get citizenship of the island in return for making a significant investment in the socio-economic development of the country.
In a statement, the DPSU said that the arrest of the Iranian fugitive and an admission by the Roosevelt Skerrit government that the Iranian had been appointed a diplomat between March of 2015 and January of 2016 “is of serious national concern.
“This is compounded by similar admissions of other such persons who became Dominican citizens either through the Citizenship by Investment Programme or other means and were found to be embroiled in deeply objectionable scandals which have tainted our good name.”
The DPSU said that it views these as occurrences with implications for all citizens.
“We believe that the right to the citizenship of any country is sacred and is one of those possessions that one cannot put a price tag on. It is this level of significance which requires our Government to tread with utmost restraint with any programme through which unknown foreign nationals with a history can smoke screen a due diligence process and then be found wanting a few months later.
“These recent happenings have sparked local, regional and international outrage and the union views a call for a Commission of Inquiry as reasonable especially in light of the recent public outrage, and is requesting the Government to accede to that call.”
On Tuesday, protest erupted after supporters of the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) and the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP), who had been supporting their parties’ call for Skerrit and his cabinet to resign, too to the streets setting fire to buildings and looting several businesses.
The DPSU said that while it believes in the respect for the constitutional right of every citizen in Dominica to demand and receive answers from a democratically elected government, it does “not condone or support acts of violence, arson and vandalism which put lives and property at risk.
“The union supports reasonable, constitutional civil disobedience which brings attention to matters of national concern without causing aggravated harm to any of our citizens or official authorities. The police, likewise, must uphold the rule of law and treat with all criminal actions swiftly and justly, regardless of the perpetrators.”
The DPSU said that the actions by a group of dissenting individuals must be condemned, adding “the  attack on public facilities and destruction of private property is not a dignified or legal means of obtaining answers and only serves as an inane distraction”.
But it warned that “attributing blame for what has occurred to certain individuals without any evidence can only contribute towards greater anger, and division among our citizens.
“A proper investigation and enquiry into what happened should be pursued. The union therefore calls for a proper and independent investigation or enquiry to determine where the blame falls.
“We call on leaders on both political divide to find resolutions that address all the recent issues that has compromised and sullied the good name of our country. We call on the Church and Civil Society leaders to condemn all the aforementioned worrying occurrences that have compromised the good name of Dominica.”
In a radio and television address following the protest, Prime Minister Skerrit blamed the leadership of the two opposition parties which he said had planned to overthrow his legally elected government by means other than by the ballot.
“The police had information that the intent of the leadership was to stall the truck in front the Financial Centre (housing the Office of the Prime Minister) and storm the barriers with the intent of entering the building.
“This was the intent of the leadership of the United Workers Party and the Dominica Freedom Party. This is how they intended to seize the seat of power in the country. They would have stormed the Financial Centre Building and seek to occupy the building until their demands were met,” Skerrit said in his broadcast.

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