Monday, June 28, 2010

Stop giving SVG a bad name

Stop giving country a bad name, PM tells nationals

THURSDAY, 24 JUNE 2010 16:23 CMC

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, CMC - Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has appealed to Vincentians to stop giving the country a bad name by applying for refugee status in Canada.

Nationals of St Vincent and the Grenadines do not require a visa to travel to Canada. However, Prime Minister Gonsalves bemoaned the fact that many people from this Eastern Caribbean country have been attempting to regularise their status there by seeking refugee status.

Gonsalves said St Vincent and the Grenadines is “not like some African countries” and argued that it “is arguably the most free and democratic country” in the Caribbean.

He said some women, who can show that they have suffered spousal and domestic abuse, may obtain refugee status because the Canadian authorities would not want them to return to such a situation in their homeland.

“I continue to speak out because it gives us a bad name,” the Prime Minister said, adding that while he understands the predicament of the persons involved, it does not mean what they are doing should be condoned.

“I have repeatedly said don’t waste money on lawyers, who encourage you to use political persecution,” he said, noting that it would be difficult for Vincentians, who over stay their time in Canada, to get their status regularised on such grounds.

The issue of Vincentians seeking refugee status in Canada has been an ongoing political issue on various radio talk shows.

Some talk show hosts, opposed to the Gonsalves administration, have claimed that nationals have been fleeing the country because of a culture of fear and progressively reduced freedom of speech and the loss of jobs from political victimisation.

However, no firm facts have been put forward to support their claims.