by Sandra CA Ferguson
Recently, I came across the following article: “This is the top country for wealthy South Africans looking for a second passport”
Citizenship for Sale:
The following flyer is a satirical representation of the information contained in the article:
The article seems to confirm and justify the concerns and queries re certain amendments that were proposed to Chapter 1 of the Constitution, The Protection of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms and rejected in the Referendum. Considered in the context of the citizenship by investment programme, queries were raised as to whether or not the proposed amendments:
- Accommodating High Net Worth Individuals: were intended to accommodate those ‘high net worth individuals,’ ie the rich and mega-rich, who purchased passports and citizenship;
- Second Class Citizens: were making ‘second class citizens’ of persons at home and in the Diaspora, ie those whose ‘nabel [navel] string bury here’;
- Sovereignty: were compromising and threatening Grenada’s sovereignty.
The Rejected Amendments:
It is useful to revisit certain specific amendments that were proposed to Chapter 1 of the Constitution and the queries that were raised in respect of these amendments in relation to the Citizenship by Investment Programme.
- Additional grounds for discrimination: Disability, ethnicity, language, national or social origin expanded the grounds for discrimination in respect of fundamental rights and freedoms:‘Whereas every person in Grenada is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms, that is to say, the right, whatever his ‘colour, creed, disability, ethnicity, language, place of birth, national or social origin, political opinions, race, religion, sex or social class, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest….’. While this amendment is innocuous, even laudable, one must be aware of subtle and not so subtle implications of this amendment vis-à-vis other amendments.
- Rights of a Person who is detained: ‘Any person who is arrested or detained shall have (a) the right to be informed, without delay, promptly, at the time of his arrest or detention, of the reason or reasons for his arrest or detention in a language that he understands’;
- ‘…Promptly, without delay…’: Queries were raised as to whether or not the new requirements ‘promptly, without delay…’ might compromise law enforcement which may not have the necessary resources on hand ‘without delay’? eg access to language resources to facilitate translation/interpretation.
- Right to Vote: 13C: Chapter 1, Section 13 addresses ‘protection from discrimination on the grounds of race etc. A new Section, 13C was inserted, ‘the right to vote’, was inserted, thus making it a human right, ‘There shall be guaranteed the right of every citizen of Grenada — who is qualified to be registered as an elector for elections to the House of Representatives, to be so registered; ….’. Given that the right to vote was inserted under Section 13, ‘protection from discrimination on the grounds of race, etc,’ the expanded grounds, national origin and language would apply.
- CBI Citizenship: The query and concern were whether the right to vote would extend to those persons who had purchased citizenship and were guaranteed lifetime citizenship, with NO residence requirements and NO language requirements under the Citizenship by Investment programme, even when they give up their investments in Grenada? The article seems to answer that question.
- Supreme Law and the Representation of the People Act: Given that the constitution is the Supreme Law and that the amendments broadened the grounds for discrimination re fundamental rights and freedoms to include ‘national origin’ and ‘language’, did the proposed amendment effectively annul the residence requirement of the of the Representation of the People Act which governs elections?
- CBI and the Representation of the People Act: Is the Citizenship by Investment Programme in conflict with the Representation of the People Act?
We the People and the CBI Programme:
The economic citizenship programme has brought our country and the region into disrepute given the disproportionate number of crooks and conmen that the programme has attracted and made travel more difficult and expensive for the ordinary citizen, eg the imposition of visa requirements to Canada now required of citizens of Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda and the warnings received from other countries to which we have travelled hassle-free. And sadly, the islands of the OECS which have introduced CBI programmes seem to want to outdo one another in a race to the bottom in respect of the ‘attractiveness’ of their CBI programmes.
Protecting the Integrity of Citizenship:
In his Draft Constitution of the Commonwealth of Grenada, Professor Simon McIntosh proposed citizenship by birth, by descent, by marriage and by naturalization. He also proposed a check on the Parliament — ‘Parliament may make no provision for the acquisition of citizenship of Grenada, other than in accordance with the stipulations of this Chapter, by persons who are not or could not otherwise become citizens by virtue of this Chapter’. Under such a provision, there could be no Citizenship by Investment Act.
- PM Gonsalves of St Vincent on Economic Citizenship:
PM Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines has eloquently voiced his opposition to the introduction of a CBI programme in his country. But even though St Vincent and the Grenadines does not have a CBI programme, the OECS programmes put his country at risk since the passport of an OECS country also confers on them rights as OECS citizens. Just last year, two Chinese nationals — who were on China’s 100 list of fugitives — who had become citizens of Grenada were arrested in St Vincent. They were accused of jointly embezzling US$4.56 million of dollars of public funds. (Now this raises questions about the due diligence process of Grenada since these two individuals were public servants and were on a list!! But do not forget that one, Charles Liu — a citizen by investment, Grenada’s commercial attaché in its Bejing embassy and spearheading the M. Hartman Grenada Resort Development Project — is now facing fraud charges in the US and assets have been frozen. Have we the people given thought to the fate of OUR property, Mt Hartman Estate and Hog Island (belonging to the Theodore family). But that subject is for another discourse.). And most recently a ‘citizen’ of Antigua and Barbuda is at the centre of a developing US Dept. of Justice case involving the largest criminal marketplace on the Internet.
The following are PM Gonsalves’ reflections on the economic citizenship programme:
- It ‘… undermines our soul, our sovereignty and independence: It sells our birth-right of citizenship.
- Citizenship ‘is sacred and the passport is the outward side of the inward grace of citizenship’.
- ‘When you start to sell your citizenship, you will sell anything.
- Selling citizenship ‘undermines the integrity’ of the very citizenship.
- Other countries would also regard nationals ‘with jaundiced eyes’ if you go about selling your citizenship.
- ‘So a passport is something of great value to our citizens. It facilitates them going places to get jobs, and when they line up before the immigration, people know that this is a passport which is not sold. You carry it with dignity and pride.’
What does OUR citizenship and passport mean to each of us citizens whose ‘nable [navel] string bury here?’ Will we allow our government and its marketing agents to continue to DESECRATE our citizenship and passport?
STAND UP FOR GRENADA! GRENADA DESERVES BETTER!!