Prime Minister Gaston Browne announced details of the new diplomatic passport policy on Monday
ST JOHN'S, Antigua -- The Antigua and Barbuda Cabinet on Saturday approved a new policy on diplomatic and official passports to increase the level of transparency, accountability and legitimacy of diplomatic appointments. Prime Minister Gaston Browne announced details of the new policy in Parliament on Monday.
The full text of the announcement is as follows:
The government of Antigua and Barbuda, as a member-state of the international community, adheres to obligations under international law. These obligations include the conduct of international relations in conformity with international treaties.
The government recognizes that threats to global well-being have altered and intensified, particularly in relation to terrorist activities and organized crime.
In keeping with its international obligations, and conscious of the importance of preserving the integrity, standing and value of diplomatic and official passports of Antigua and Barbuda, in March 2017 when new electronic passports, containing biometric data, will be ready for issue, the government will recall all existing diplomatic and official passports, except those held by (i) the Governor-General and spouse, (ii) the Prime Minister and spouse, (iii) Ministers of the Government and spouses, (iv) diplomats accredited by formal agreement to other states and international and regional organizations, and their spouses and dependent children.
Thereafter, diplomatic and official passports will be issued and monitored in accordance with the following guidelines:
Categories of entitlement for Diplomatic Passports
(a) Governor-General and spouse;
(b) Governor General's Deputy and spouse;
(c) Prime Minister and spouse;
(d) Cabinet Ministers and spouses;
(e) President of the Senate and spouse
(f) Speaker of the House of Representatives and spouses;
(g) Leader of the Opposition and spouse
(h) Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and spouse;
(i) Ambassadors, High Commissioners, and officers of diplomatic rank, Attachés, and Consular Officers serving the Government in accredited countries and international and regional organizations abroad, and their spouses;
(j) Persons appointed as “Ambassadors at Large” or “Special Envoys” for particular missions abroad on a mission of a diplomatic character with other governments or international organizations or, generally in the furtherance of the objectives of the state, to bring added value to our bilateral and international relations;
(k) Children of a person to whom a passport has been issued under (i) above whose normal place of residence is with that person and who are traveling with that person or proceeding to join that person abroad.
Categories of Entitlement for Courtesy Diplomatic Passports
i. National Heroes and spouses;
ii. Former Governors-General and Spouses; and
iii. Former Prime Ministers and Spouses
iv. Members of the House of Representatives who have served for at least 20 years and their spouses.
Categories of Entitlement for Official Passports
Official passports may also be issued to the following categories of persons travelling on government business.
(a) Members of the Senate and members of the House of Representatives
(b) Senior Public Servants to include Permanent Secretaries, Heads of Departments, Chief Technical Officers and Directors attending international conferences or regional conferences.
Appointment of non-national Ambassadors-at-Large, Special Envoys and Honorary Consuls (to be granted on a limited basis to increase the global reach of the state):
The appointments of non-national ambassadors-at-large, special envoys and honorary consuls shall be a decision of Cabinet which shall give consideration to such appointments only in circumstances where such appointments will further the objectives of the state or bring added value to Antigua and Barbuda’s international or bilateral relationship with countries.
In order to manage the risks associated with these appointments, the appointment shall be for a maximum of two years, subject to renewal upon satisfactory performance.
With respect to honorary consuls, their appointments shall be in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963 to which Antigua and Barbuda is a signatory, and they shall not be entitled to diplomatic or official passports, given that they are nationals or residents of the receiving state. Their immunities and privileges shall be consistent with the law and practice of the state to which they are appointed following the establishment of consular relations between Antigua and Barbuda and the receiving state by mutual consent.
Honorary consuls shall also be required to: (i) establish a suitable honorary consulate with appropriate staff, including but not limited to nationals of Antigua and Barbuda either provided from the ministry of foreign affairs or approved by the ministry of foreign affairs; and (ii) maintain a vehicle for use on official business where appropriate guidelines set by the receiving state shall be implemented, including identifying plates.
Criteria for Appointment of non-national Ambassadors-at-Large, Special Envoys and Honorary Consuls:
Non-national persons considered for appointments in these three categories must: (a) be of good reputation and proven competence; (b) not have any criminal record; (c) possess the skills necessary to function in the designated role; and (d) submit to rigorous and satisfactory due diligence checks.
They shall also be required to: submit all necessary information and documentation for enhanced due diligence process; provide an outline of planned activities for their task, emphasizing their capacity to bring benefits to Antigua and Barbuda; and deliver annual reports on the progress made including recommendations for improvements.
Due diligence of non-nationals
To ensure appropriate representation by non-national ambassadors-at-large, special envoys and honorary consuls thorough background and other due diligence checks shall be conducted on persons under consideration and prior to their appointment. Among the documentation required shall be: police certificates from countries of residence and birth; declarations on source of funds and disclosure of business activities.
Non-national ambassadors-at-large, special envoys and honorary consuls shall be evaluated on a yearly basis to determine effectiveness of representation. Where an appointee envoy does not satisfy the objectives for which his/her appointment was made and is judged not to have brought any added value to the state, the appointment shall be terminated.
An Review committee shall be appointed to determine the performance, including any risks to the state’s reputation or otherwise, by non-nationals appointed as ambassadors-at-large, special envoys and honorary consuls. The committee shall be non-political and shall comprise five senior persons drawn from the existing public service (or retired persons with relevant experience), including law enforcement agencies, and it shall make recommendations to the Cabinet on the continuance or termination of the appointments.
Termination of Diplomatic Appointments
The appointments of all diplomats, including nationals, will be terminated should they be found by a Court of Law to have committed a serious crime or should it be established that they have abused their diplomatic status to infringe the laws of Antigua and Barbuda or any State abroad.
Sharing of Information on Diplomatic and Official Passports
With effect from the implementation of its new electronic passports, scheduled for March 2017 or at the effective date, the government will provide a list of all holders of Antigua and Barbuda diplomatic and official passports to those countries with which it has formal diplomatic relations.
Transparency and Disclosure
A list of all diplomatic passports shall be tabled annually in Parliament and released publicly.