Govt defends dismissal of overseas honorary consuls

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs hit back against alleged criticism of its recent dismissal of honorary consuls overseas in a statement yesterday, insisting that it acted properly.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is aware of messages circulating in social media regarding the termination of some Bahamian honorary consuls in various countries,” the statement read.

“At least one of the messages claims that the termination has caused them financial hardship and they are owed monies by the government. The ministry wishes to inform that provisions for the appointment of honorary consuls are made in the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.”

The ministry stated that honorary consuls are “persons of means and influence in the country where they reside” and that they are not paid a salary except in “exceptional cases” where the government “may pay a nominal stipend to help support their offices, depending on the volume of work and activity in the jurisdiction where they are located”.

“In the case of The Bahamas,” the ministry noted, “the vast majority of the honorary consuls provides their services free of charge. There is a very small number of them to whom the government provides a small stipend because of the volume or nature of the work in their jurisdictions.

“There are no Bahamian honorary consuls to whom monies are owed at this time. A comprehensive audit was recently undertaken of the honorary consuls appointed by The Bahamas, and it was determined that some posts would be retained, and others not.

“The ministry is satisfied that all proper steps have been taken with respect to the honorary consuls serving The Bahamas overseas. The Bahamas owes a debt of gratitude to all honorary consuls who have performed over the years, as well as those who continue and are willing to represent the government and people of The Bahamas.”