Losing a passport is not a particularly fun experience. It involves additional expenses and time for something that is only rarely used though no less important. But one Belize City young man was relieved of his misery a bit quicker.
Eric Sanchez lost his passport late in the month of March but only reported it to police on April 25.
He applied for a new passport on May 23 and got it on June 6, about a month before it was actually due. The law says lost passports are replaced in six weeks from the date it was reported lost to police. So, was the law applied wrongly here?
Minister responsible for Immigration Godwin Hulse said he would go and check, noting that it is another example of the rot that needs to be cleared out.
Reporter: “Would you be able to explain because there are allegations are that this individual had applied for a new passport because he had lost his previous one and rather than getting it in the six weeks according to the law, he got it in much less time”.
“First of all, I see no applications at all ever. The is the per view of the Department head and the director. There are three things: the expedited passport, there are some that get it in one week and there are some that get it in a normal way. In terms of the lost passport, it used to be three months, but we moved it under the law up to six weeks but that time starts from the time when you report it to the police or the Department; whichever is first. So, the case for Mr. Sanchez, I couldn’t comment, but believe in me: when I get to the office I will comment”.
Reporter: “We have seen all the documents from the date of application. It was actually brought down by someone in the office to less than that six weeks”.
Hon. Godwin Hulse: “It is great news. I will check as soon as I get back to my office. I will kindly ask you to just send me a quick fax about it and in fact, I will write it down to investigate because, as you know, let me be very clear: lot of things continue in Immigration even as much as we try to be on top of it, it is like woodlice; like my good friend bus out one corner and gets it out in another corner. But anybody who violates the law and the rules and we know they are knowing it do so, we will deal with it”.
Hulse told our colleagues at Channel 7 later today that it appears to him that all is well, and noted that nobody at the Department knows who Sanchez is. The delay is to stop proceedings at any time if the lost passport is recovered.
In an interesting side note, the Minister personally sees no passport applications, those being wholly handled in the Passport section of the Department.
Director of Immigration Maria Marin handles expedited passports, and the Minister only approves the issue of diplomatic passports requested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.