The list of individuals in possession of Antigua & Barbuda’s diplomatic passports was finally made public yesterday after Prime Minister Gaston Browne had promised to do so almost five and a half months ago.
Malaka Parker, communications officer of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) expressed her opinion on the importance attached to the publication of the list.
“The issue of diplomatic passports and issuance has been a matter of contention for some time now. The publication of the list is necessary and it is something that I believe we should practice as a norm going forward because we cannot escape our historic legacy,” Parker said yesterday.
She said that this was because of issues in the past with holders of diplomatic passports who had been caught up in international crime and fraud which has resulted in the image of Antigua & Barbuda being smeared.
“So in the government’s push, as they continue to say, to clean up the name of Antigua & Barbuda, they need to bring these things more in light and more to the public. I believe as well the United Progressive Party would have some questions to answer in terms of their handling of the diplomatic passport.
“The prime minister should be urged to publish this list, and the DNA will lend its voice to urge the prime minister [to do so]. This issue is one of national security, especially when you juxtapose it to the Citizen by Investment Programme,” Parker said.
The communication officer further highlighted the importance of publishing the diplomatic passport holders list by making reference to statements made by Prime Minister Browne in Parliament this week in which he accused the former United Progressive Party government of selling diplomatic passports which he has since cancelled.
The government released the list of diplomatic passport holders to the media at the post-Cabinet briefing yesterday. The list showed that 186 diplomatic passports have been issued in recent times — 160 to citizens of Antigua and Barbuda while 25 were issued to foreign-born nationals and in some case, their spouses.