October 27, 2017

The Minister responsible for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayokor Botchwey has disclosed that her outfit has held very fruitful deliberations with some Embassies in the country following allegation of ill-treatment of Ghanaian visa applicants.

According to her the said embassies agreed in principle to treat applicants with the necessary dignity they deserve in the process of visa acquisition.

The Minister however noted that there is absolutely nothing Ghana could do about the amount each country decides to charge for the acquisition of visa purposes since it has to do with their sovereignty.

She however assured to ensure that Embassies who charged visa fees for longer periods but grants only fewer durations refund such unfair charges.

She disclosed that some foreigners have acquired Ghanaian passport through illegal means and they are currently facing the law court.

Embassies engaged include the UK High Commission, USA and the Chinese embassies.

In a related development, the Minister disclosed that some foreigners who have attempted to acquire the Ghanaian passport illegally have been prosecuted.

Responding to a parliamentary question by MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, on what measures the Ministry is putting in place to prevent non-Ghanaian citizens from acquiring Ghanaian passport, the Sector Minister, said, the passport office is continuously embarking on various measures aimed at ensuring that, only bonafide citizens of Ghana are issued with Ghana’s passport.

“a significant and most important measure in this regard, is through rigorous physical verification of prospective applicants as well as their citizenship documents by the security agencies at the Passport Office, by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI).

Defence Intelligence Unit of the Ghana Armed Forces, National Security Council Secretariat, the Ghana Service  (GIS) and the Births and Deaths Registry”.

The agencies she said are currently working in tandem with the Passport Office through the deployment of trained officers at all Passport Application Centres (PACs) in Ghana to physically verify every single applicant,

interrogate applicants to ascertain nationality and verify all documents presented for the purposes of acquiring a Ghanaian passport before recommending applicants for approval by a Director at the PACs.

According to her, there are about 4 individuals at various stages of prosecution at the Court.

“Since it is a crime against the State for a foreigner to acquire or attempt to acquire a Ghanaian passport, the Passport Office, in collaboration with the Ghana Police, actively and frequently effect the arrest and prosecution of suspected foreigners who may attempt to acquire our passport”.

By Christian Kpesese/ ghanamps.com