Kenneth Rijock

Kenneth Rijock

Saturday, February 4, 2017

REFLECTIONS ON A PRIOR DOMINICAN PASSPORT FIASCO, ALSO INVOLVING IRANIANS



Ousted Prime Minister Patrick John

The Bible says there's nothing new under the sun; it's all happened before. This is not the first time a prime minister in Dominica has found himself in dire straights over illicit sales of passports to Iranians, as well as efforts to restrict human rights and fundamental freedom; I should know, for I was there when it happened.

It was 1979, shortly after a powerful hurricane had cut a swath of destruction across the center of Dominica; six British soldiers, sent there, post-disaster, assisted with the clean-up and recovery. We learned, in Miami, that the government of Prime Minister Patrick John was selling passports to Iranian nationals, and I immediately booked a flight, in order to obtain some for clients of a client.

Not having a direct relationship with any Dominican attorneys, I stopped first in Antigua, and, with the assistance of local counsel, I obtained a referral to a ell-known two-man law firm in Roseau, who were known to be assisting foreign clients in securing passports efficiently. Back then, the airport was on the opposite end of the island from Roseau, and it was an extended trip, by car, to reach the capital, which then had only a couple of hours of electricity per day, due to the recent natural disaster. There were no tourists, as the island was still in disrepair

Arriving at the law office, a secretary directed me to the courthouse, where the attorneys were busy representing the Defence Force, and the police, respectively, at an Inquest into the recent violence, which had occurred when unarmed protesters assembled outside Government Headquarters, objecting to pending legislation, which included mandatory newspaper disclosure of the name of the writer f articles, and whether the article was news, or commentary, were shot, resulting in several injuries, and one death.

Eugenia Charles
That was the end of the John Government, which fell shortly thereafter, and the covert passport program,  for Iranians, and anyone else who wanted to pay for them, soon came to an end. Later, Dominica was blessed with Dame Mary Eugenia Charles, who supported anti-corruption measures, and the likes of whom Dominica needs once again.

If we do not learn the lessons of history, we are bound to repeat them. 

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