Legislation may soon be drafted to make it mandatory for workers in sensitive sectors of the government take a polygraph test, as a part of the hiring process.
The announcement was made by Immigration Minister Charles Fernandez who was at the time, addressing an issue within the immigration department concerning the firing of five immigration officers due to evidence of unlawful activity in their immediate past.
He said that there are currently two departments which conduct lie-detector test as a condition of employment and that he is hopeful that this will soon be extended to workers employed in other areas of government.
“What we have agreed is that there has to be something put in place legally and as a result of that we will be going to parliament very shortly. The Attorney General’s office is looking at the whole issue of Polygraph testing because we’re not looking only at the Immigration Department, there are other divisions of the government, (the Police, Army, Customs…) that polygraph testing would be required,” he said.
The immigration Minister said that this will also bring Antigua and Barbuda out of the line of fire as it relates to the level of the country’s border security.
“We’re under a lot of scrutiny internationally from the U.S, the Canadians and mostly the British in particular and in general. Most of the other international countries that sends representatives here, one of the first or most important issue for them is with regards to boarder security,” he said.
“That is something that we had put in place from the beginning, ” he said, adding that “There are other issues that we need to look at but in regards to persons involved in drugs and drug related matters, there is no room for them in the immigration Department.”
The Minister also cleared the air on an alleged dispute between himself and the Chief Immigration Officer Annette Mark.
He debunked claims that the matter involving the dismissal of the five employees at the Immigration Department was a dispute between the two officials, noting that they were both on the same page as it relates to the Government’s Hiring policy.