The Vanuatu passports for the Chinese nationals who were deported last week, were cancelled prior to their deportation.
Director of Vanuatu Immigration Services (VIS), Jeffery Markson confirmed this during a press conference yesterday.
These six Chinese nationals, four of whom who are Vanuatu citizens, after obtaining the Vanuatu citizenship passport through the Development Support Program (DSP), were subjected to criminal investigations in China.
This wan also confirmed by the Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Floyd Mera, who stated that “in June 2019, the Chinese Law Enforcement Agency informed Vanuatu Authorities of their criminal investigation into the six Chinese nationals that commenced in March 2019”.
They were arrested and remanded in compliance with the Immigration Act.
Their record in China had warranted them to be deported from Vanuatu, which was ordered by the Minister of Internal Affairs, and executed by law enforcement agencies.
Since the Chinese nationals were deemed wanted persons in China, their removal was guaranteed under the ‘removal without notice’ order which warranted the law enforcement officers to execute instant deportation.
If they had received an order of removal under the 'removal with notice', they would have had the privilege to seek legal advice, and normal procedures would be followed leading to their removal from the country.
Director Markson also clarified that the nationals had in possession a dual passport.
"These people applied for our citizenship. We (Vanuatu) accepted and recognize dual citizenship.”
He explained that there are cases where people who applied for dual citizenships tend to keep only the Vanuatu passport, while some of them continue to possess their passports of origin, which was the case for the Chinese nationals in question.
"If the Chinese concerned had had their Chinese citizenships cancelled, it meant that we cannot cancel their Vanuatu citizenship, therefore, they would continue to remain a Vanuatu citizen.”
This meant that the authorities would have to follow normal procedures in accordance to our law to deal with them.
However, the investigations undertaken by the Immigration has revealed that they continue have in possession their Chinese passports.
The Office of Immigration received intel and collaborated with the FIU and the Citizenship Office to verify information and wanted reassurance from the relevant authorities about the status of the Chinese nationals, whether they would have issues with them in the future.
“We found out that we do not have the resources to deal with the particular crime they were involved in, if it were to have occurred in Vanuatu,” the Director said.
“Following close contact with the Chinese Embassy, we then cancelled their Vanuatu citizenships.”
The State Law representative confirmed such cases are subjected to Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act.
Director of Finance, Mrs. Dorothy Erickson confirmed in the last five years since the introduction and establishment of the citizenship programs, the revenue collected through this initiative continues to increase.
In 2018 alone, it raked in Vt9.8 billion in revenue, according to Mrs. Erickson. This, so far is confirmed to be the highest revenue collection out from the program.