Ayokor Botchwey Engages Embassies Over Visa Challenges
The Minister responsible for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayokor Botchwey, has said her outfit has held fruitful deliberations with some Embassies in the country following allegations of ill-treatment of Ghanaian visa applicants.
According to her, the embassies in question agreed in principle to treat applicants with the necessary dignity they deserve in the process of visa acquisition.
Embassies engaged include the UK High Commission, USA and the Chinese embassies.
The Minister noted that there is absolutely nothing Ghana could do about the amount any foreign country decides to charge for the acquisition of visa since it has to do with their sovereignty.
She however gave an assurance to ensure that Embassies who charged visa fees for longer periods but grants lesser durations refund such unfair charges.
Shirley Ayokor Botchwey disclosed that some foreigners have acquired Ghanaian passports through illegal means and they are currently facing the law court.
In a related development, the Minister disclosed that some foreigners who have attempted to acquire Ghanaian passports 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 passports, 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), Defense Intelligence Unit of the Ghana Armed Forces, National Security Council Secretariat, the Ghana Service (GIS) and the Births and Deaths Registry”.
The aforementioned agencies, she said, were working in tandem with the Passport Office through the deployment of trained officers at all Passport Application Centers (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”.
Source: Christian Kpesese/ thePublisher