Seychelles to review applications for biometric passports for those acquired under old Economic Investment Programme
Seychelles introduced the new biometric passport for its citizens in November 2022. (Seychelles Nation)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The issuance of the new Seychellois biometric passport for citizenship acquired under the Economic Investment Programme will be done if the applicant properly complies with all the requirements of the law at the time, said a top government official on Thursday.
The statement was made by Seychelles Vice President Ahmed Afif in a Cabinet press briefing.
Afif told reporters that the government set up a citizenship committee when Seychelles was about to launch the biometric passport as the government wanted the process to be consistent and as per the law.
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, introduced the new biometric passport for its citizens in November 2022 and the first one was issued to President Wavel Ramkalawan.
The biometric passport has a microchip with data such as fingerprints, facial recognition, and digital signature elements.
The committee was set up to examine the awards of citizenship under Section 5 of the Citizenship Act 1994, whereby citizenship could be acquired through the Economic Investment Programme, which operated between 1995 and 2009.
"There are many people even if they are citizens, who have never come to Seychelles but they have a Seychellois passport they got through 5(2) that was on the economic investment programme. So we said if any among them came to Seychelles and asked to renew their passport and get a biometric one, let us do the exercise so that we can ensure that there is no fraud or laws broken," explained Afif.
He said that the committee found that in many cases there were no proper records to prove that the process done was in order.
"The government decided since we could not find out everything in our records, those asking for renewal of their Seychellois passport because the ones they have, have expired, they need to show us proof that everything was done as per the requirement," said Afif.
"They will have to tell us what investment they made, when made payments [...] and if everything is in order, it is our obligation to renew these passports. If not everything is in order and we see that there are discrepancies in the process, we will look for evidence and examine each case for us to be sure whether the passport will be renewed or not," he added.
In its meeting on Wednesday, the Cabinet of Ministers advised that the award of citizenship should be respected in cases where the applicant had properly complied with all the requirements of the law at the time.
However, any cases of citizenship awarded without the full due process would be subject to further investigation and possibly revoked in accordance with the law.