8 Jul 2013

Vanuatu govt says review of diplomatic corps a gradual process

5:54 pm on 8 July 2013

Vanuatu's Foreign Minister says his ministry continues to review the appointments of all the country's diplomatic passport holders.

After taking on the portfolio in March, Edward Natapei begun a process of revoking diplomatic passport appointments made outside of proper procedure.

Mr Natapei, who earlier indicated that as many as 70 of the 99 overseas representatives could lose their jobs, told Johnny Blades that so far 12 appointments have been revoked.

EDWARD NATAPEI: We're still going through the process. We have to check each one individually, some of whom are not actually on our records, so we have to do some work to try and find out who is out there with our diplomatic passports. Some of the diplomatic passports were signed and issued by former ministers, and, therefore, the department does not have records of all the diplomatic passports. And we're still in the process of trying to find out who is out there. For those that we have the names, we're going through to check their background before we can make a decision on whether or not we could still use them, or we may have to terminate their appointment.

JOHNNY BLADES: It sounds like a bit of a mess if you've got a number who are not on the list but going around the world as Vanuatu representatives.

EN: Yes, that is correct. And we need to find out more about those who are travelling around the world with diplomatic passports. Even some who were issued the normal citizenship passports, the green passports that we have in Vanuatu, we understand that there are some foreign nationals who have been issued with this passport but have never been in the country. So in accordance with the constitution, a person has to be in the country for at least 10 years before he can be considered for citizenship.

JB: What about Pascal Ahn Quan Saken? Can you update me on whether his status is being revoked?

EN: Yes. It has been revoked so we are still following up on the passport to see if we can get it back from him.

JB: So you mean it's been revoked, but he's still going around as the Vanuatu representative?

EN: Yes, we have not been able to talk to him and organise the return of the documents that he has.

JB: Isn't there just a process whereby other countries borders are notified?

EN: Yes. We have sent out information to that effect, so if he travels using a Vanuatu passport he will be asked to return the passport.