Some minority members of Parliament have called on government to hold foreign missions accountable over reports of inhumane treatment meted out to Ghanaians.
Without singling out any particular embassy, the Minority Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, noted that the situation could affect diplomatic relations in Ghana if not checked.
Making a statement on the floor of Parliament, the North Tongu MP said: “the blot I speak of is the shabby and dehumanizing treatment sometimes meted out to many Ghanaian applicants virtually on a daily basis.”
He added that “there is also what many Ghanaian visa applicants consider to be extortionist conduct on the part of some of these embassies.”
Mr. Ablakwa noted that, most embassies have made “no provision for a decent and safe waiting area where visa applicants may be hosted as they wait their turn during visa interview appointments.”
The North Tongu legislator recalled visits to some missions which he said left him “outraged” as he found applicants queuing at opened areas and waiting at roundabouts at the mercy of the weather.
“To these embassies, they couldn’t be bothered if the sun is scorching or it’s raining or if there is a category five hurricane. They simply don’t seem to care,” he bemoaned.
Aside from the earlier points, Mr. Ablakwa raised concerns with the different kinds of fees some applicants are presented with.
According to him, “a new trend is emerging where some embassies, apart from their standard visa processing fees, demand all kinds of extra fees and charges under various guises. These guises range from express fees, early appointment fees, email fees, text messages fees and so on and so forth.”
Mr. Ablakwa stressed that, the visa applicants have rights and deserve respect, and “now is the time to demand action as the people’s representatives.”
Responding to the concerns, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Frank Annor Dompreh, said his committee was aware of the situation, and would team up with the Foreign Affairs on how best to deal with this worrying trend.
“It has become so important and poignant that we take some important decisions and take some attempts to resolve this concern once and for all,” he said.
Mr. Annor Dompreh thus indicated the need for a thorough investigation, saying “there are some of these embassies that are doing a very good job and they need to be supported and encouraged.