STATEMENT BY HONOURABLE VINCENT WHEATLEY
MINISTER FOR NATURAL RESOURCES, LABOUR AND IMMIGRATION
INCIDENT OF 20th DECEMBER - INDIVIDUAL DENIED ENTRY
TUESDAY, 22nd DECEMBER, 2020
Season’s Greetings to you the people of the Territory.
On Sunday, 20th December, 2020 a native of the Dominican Republic travelled to the BVI and was subsequently refused entry by Immigration at the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport. The passenger was then transported to Wyndham Tortola (Lambert Beach Resort) where he was expected to quarantine and await the scheduled departure from the Territory on Monday, 21st December, 2020.
Unfortunately, routine checks of the passenger’s room revealed that he had left the room and possibly left the resort. I am aware that this incident has brought a level of unrest and fear to the public, especially considering the possible effects of COVID-19. I would like to reduce those fears by informing you that upon arrival the passenger did undergo the on-arrival PCR testing which I can report was a negative result. While this negative test result may bring some level of relief, the fact that he has broken the law and remains at large is still of great concern for us as a Government as it should be for you as a people.
This passenger has broken several laws set to protect you the people. We will not stand for this! The Immigration Department with the assistance of the Joint Task Force has begun extensive operations to locate the gentleman and enforce all penalties appropriate for this level violation. It is also my hope that you the public will assist in sharing any information you may have pertaining to the whereabouts of the individual, or anyone that you think has information or is harboring him.
I take this opportunity to inform the public of the following decisions approved by Cabinet and soon to be passed in the House of Assembly.
Cabinet has considered and approved the increase of the fine stipulated in Section 20(3) and 20(5)(a) of the Immigration and Passport Act from one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) and twelve (12) months imprisonment to one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00) and ten (10) years imprisonment for the following:
- for any person who lands or embarks in the Territory and is in contravention of Section 20.
- and any person being the master or captain of a vessel from which a person lands or embarks in the Territory in contravention of Section 20.
Cabinet has approved the increase of the fine stipulated in Section 47(2) of the Immigration and Passport Act from three thousand dollars ($3,000) and two (2) years imprisonment to one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00) and ten (10) years imprisonment for:
- a person assisting with or making arrangements for a person to enter the Territory illegally
- and for a person who knowingly harbours an illegal person for a period of more than two (2) days;
- Cabinet has also decided that the Chief Immigration Officer be given the powers to compound offenses and administer penalties for persons in contravention of the Immigration and Passport Act and Regulations.
- and Cabinet has further decided that the Chief Immigration Officer be given the powers to administer on-the-spot fines to persons in contravention of the Passport and Immigration Act;
We must continue to show BVILOVE by banding together to safeguard our Territory from persons who seek to break the laws set to protect us all. Let us not shy away from being a part of what is right. If you or someone you know has information, please call 468-4705, or 468-9601 immediately.
I thank you for your time and look forward to your cooperation.