A concerned Pakistani who has lived in Vanuatu for three years without a passport wants an answer from the authorities concerned.
Rizwan Farooq entered the country in May 2016 after registering his investment through the Vanuatu Immigration Promotion Authority (VIPA), he says his passport confiscated by an Immigration Officer at the Immigration office in Port Vila.
“The officer took my passport when i went to pay for residency permit and business Visa, the next time i went to collect my passport they told me i have no passport at the office,” Farooq said.
“My passport was never returned to me and i made too many attempts to retrieve my passport from Immigration without success, every time they tell me there was no passport in there.”
Farooq said the he took his business license on May 19 and his residency permit on May only to have an officer tell him that his visa expired on May 22,2016.
The license is for five years and is still valid but Farooq was unable to do anything due to the passport issue, he said that he has wasted his time and resource.
“I have all my legal documents with me except my passport, and yes i have overstayed here in Vanuatu because i know where my passport was but was lied to that it was not in that office until January 23 of this year,” he said.
“I found my passport at the office of Immigration that day inside another Asian’s File and the officers (who allegedly remained silent after the discovery) promised to process all my papers before February (last month) but no actions were taken until my wife and i approached them recently only to be told that they cannot help me and i have to leave the country.”
Farooq has also registered at the Vanuatu Financial Service Commission.
In 2017, Farooq was advised by another Immigration Officer and given a Certificate of Identification (CI) without any reasons in the CI to travel back to his country to make another passport.
“There were no valid reasons on the CI and it was not written professionally that i refused to travel with that CI let alone get arrested at the Australian border — they will never accept that CI,” Farooq said.
“I have been in the country for three years,i married to a Ni-Vanuatu woman and we have a child,” he said. “Receiving threats of deportation is not the answer, my human rights have been denied.
“I have been forced by a few Immigration officers to lodge a false police statement about my missing passport that i lost it somewhere else and not in their office, but i did otherwise and made the statement that my passport got lost in the Immigration office.”
Farooq said the police have allegedly ordered the Immigration to return the passport as well as Farooq’s lawyer only to have Immigration officers allegedly threatening to deport him.
“I have been denied my human rights and i want explanations and people concern to help instead of threatening me with deportation,” he said.
“I have made attempts to meet with the Minister of Internal Affairs which was not successful, the Director of Immigration who did not want to meet with me — i am fighting for my rights and they need to hear my side of the story.
“This is a human rights issue.”
The officer who took Farooq’s passport in the first place is reportedly not working for the department anymore.
“I know the person’s face but i don’t know his name, i have searched all Immigration officers in Vila and flown to Santo but i cannot trace him down,” Farooq said.
“The office told me that there were some officers who were either terminated or retired a while ago, so i don’t know if that officer was also in that group.”
Farooq is still waiting for authorities concern to consider his request for a meeting to help with ways that will benefit his family’s welfare.
“Everything that happened was not my fault, i did everything that is required to be able to invest here in Vanuatu only to have some people playing up with my passport and cost more on the time and resource fighting alone on this case, i need answers to my query,” Farooq concluded.