NEWS

Special Passport For Our Troops Approved

Parliament yesterday passed a  law that allows  Fijian peacekeepers to use special passports to cross borders. The passport will facilitate their travel without being detained while on duties in the
03 Jun 2016 10:03
Special Passport For Our Troops  Approved
Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in Parliament yesterday.Photo:Vilimoni Vaganalau.

Parliament yesterday passed a  law that allows  Fijian peacekeepers to use special passports to cross borders.

The passport will facilitate their travel without being detained while on duties in the Middle East or Africa.

The Passport Amendment Bill 2016, fast-tracked  through Standing Order 51, was passed with 28 votes to 16 while 6 didn’t vote.

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum told Parliament the Bill was to facilitate granting of a special category of passports to Fijian peacekeepers wherever they were in the world.

This means, that unlike previously when soldiers had been stopped and even detained at borders, they will be able to move freely.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said often when soldiers had Israeli stamps on their blue passports, upon needing to cross over at Arabic countries, they had been stopped and even detained.

A separate passport which would specify their role as UN peacekeepers would see that such situation did not arise.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum also informed the House that those who returned from peacekeeping duties would need to tender in their passports and this would not be used for any civilian travels.

He also stated that there were checks and balances in place which would prevent any misuse of the passports.

Opposition Whip, Ratu Isoa Tikoca opposed the  Bill. He said the United Nations would not support the issuing of the passports.

He said it was strange for Parliament to pass such Bills saying our soldiers were not in the Middle East for a ‘tourist mission’. He also claimed that a ‘covert mission’ was being undertaken which was laughed off by Government side.

National Federation Party member, Prem Singh said the Bill would allow for a Fijian citizen to carry two passports for the first time.

Opposition MP Viliame Gavoka said peacekeepers didn’t need a passport. He said they could use the charms which Fiji was known for like our ‘beautiful smiles’.

Government MP, Netani Rika told the Opposition that they had to be in the Middle East to experience what Fijian peacekeepers went through.

 

Edited by Nemani Delaibatiki

Feedback:  arieta.vakasukawaqa@fijisun.com.fj

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