10 May 2004

Solomons concerned about increase in passports for foreigners

3:29 pm on 10 May 2004

There is a reported surge in the number of foreigners being granted Solomon Island passports.

The Department of Commerce, which is responsible for immigration says it is unable to track down a network of passport holders, who may have been given them illegally.

The Commerce Secretary, Alan Arafoa, says the Citizenship Commission, a department under the Ministry for Home Affairs, has approved the applications by foreigners.

He says his department is only responsible for issuing the passports.

But Mr Arafoa says the department is aware that some of the passports have been issued to foreigners, mostly mainland Chinese, who are not qualified to be given citizenship.

He says to qualify, foreigners have to live in Solomon islands for ten years.

Mr Arafoa says many of those who have been given passports are working in Solomon Islands, although under Solomon Island nationalisation laws, jobs should only be given foreigners if they cannot be done by local staff.