MPs fume about maltreatment of Ghanaians by foreign embassies

Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa

Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa

Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has observed that there is a blot that threatens to affect Ghana’s cordial relationship with some countries with missions here in the country.

 

“The blot I speak of; is the shabby and dehumanising treatment many Ghanaian visa applicants are subjected to on daily basis.

 

“There is also what many Ghanaian visa applicants consider to be extortionist conduct on the part of some of these embassies,” Mr Ablakwa said.

 

The Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee, made these observations in a statement on the floor of Parliament yesterday.

 

Apart from the extortion and the inhumane treatments, Mr Ablakwa said reports of disparaging remarks, poor human relations, and “outright insults” were rife, and what makes it more worrying is that “some of these embassy staff who treat Ghanaian visa applicants with such disdain are fellow Ghanaians.”

 

According to him, these embassies in question, without mentioning names, had not provided for descent and safe waiting areas where visa applicants may be hosted as they wait for their turn during interview appointments, wondering why monies collected for the visa application processes can’t be used to provide waiting bays.

 

From his personal observations, he said: “You find fellow Ghanaians standing in open places; some left to wait at street shoulders and roundabouts with no one caring about the associated risks posed by motorists, others are left at the mercy of the weather.”

 

The time, the MP said, had come for embassies to accept that visa applicants from any country had rights, deserve respect, and must not lose their basic human dignity because they foot their own travel and other expenditure costs when granted their requests.

 

“Mr Speaker, I believe now is the time to demand action as the people’s representatives. The people whom we represent demand a change of attitude and a change in how visa applicants are treated and perceived by officials of these embassies. Consular courtesies must be fair to all persons and on both sides,” he stated, revoking the Speaker’s jurisdiction to order a probe into his claims.

 

Frank Annoh-Dompreh, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, commenting on the statement said there was the need for visa applicants to educate themselves on requirements so as to ensure that they were not taken for granted by the embassies.

 

Admitting that the embassies needed to operate within the confines of the laws of Ghana and adhere to financial regulations, he wants the claims of Mr Ablakwa be treated with extra caution in order not to mar the diplomatic ties between Ghana and the respective sovereign countries.

 

The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, on his part said it was important government dealt with the push factors that encourage Ghanaians to seek ‘greener pastures’ elsewhere so that they remained and contribute their quota to national development.

 

Ghana, Mr Iddrisu, MP, Tamale South, said “has a reciprocal right to retaliate and so if they treat us with dignity and honour, we do so in return but if they don’t, we don’t owe them any courtesies,” he said to cheers from both sides of the House.

 

The Deputy Majority Chief Whip, Matthew Nyindam, MP, Kpandai, agreed with the frustrations and wondered why sovereign citizens in their own countries would be treated with the level of disdain being experienced at the embassies.

 

He wants the issues raised to be resolved amicably so that the diplomatic relations Ghana has with other countries was not undermined.

 

The Speaker of Parliament, in his consequential order, tasked the Committee on Foreign Affairs to ascertain the truth or otherwise of the statement and report back to the House their findings in due course for action to be taken.

 

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI

 

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