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General News of Saturday, 29 April 2017

Source: Class FM

Visa fraud: Jon Benjamin’s actions ‘highly problematic’ – Lawyer

The decision by the UK’s High Commissioner to Ghana, Jon Benjamin, to copy some other embassies the letter he wrote to the Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament on the alleged visa fraud involving some Members of Parliament is not the best, Gary Nimako, a private legal practitioner, has said.

According to him, copying those embassies was only meant to prejudice their minds against the MPs involved in the matter, a situation that is unacceptable because those alleged offences were only committed in the UK.

Four lawmakers have been cited in separate alleged visa offences by the UK government and a 10-year visa ban placed on them.

The four are Richard Acheampong, MP for Bia East in the Western Region; Joseph Benhazin Dahah, MP for Asutifi North (Ntotroso) in the Brong Ahafo Region; Johnson Kwaku Adu, MP for Ahafo Ano South West in the Ashanti Region, and George Boakye, former MP for Asunafo South .

A confidential letter written to the Speaker of Parliament by the UK government through the UK High Commissioner to Ghana, Mr Jon Benjamin, said the four MPs violated UK visa regulations on different occasions by either providing false information for their visa applications or facilitating the visas of some relatives who overstayed their visas in the UK.

However, commenting on this matter on TV3 on Saturday April 29, Mr Nimako said: “If a letter is to elicit a certain response from the entity that you are addressing, I do not see the need to copy the same letter or the contents to third parties, i.e. the other diplomatic corps.

“The complaint that we have are complaints bordering and touching on matters that happened on UK soil. These complaints did not happen on American soil or Canadian soil; it happened on UK soil. So the question that I ask is:

‘Why the need to copy the American Embassy or the Canadian [High Commission] or any other embassy? The essence of this is to prejudice the minds of those embassies against those individuals, meanwhile what you are seeking to do is that you want the Right Honourable Speaker of Parliament to look into the matter, to investigate and take actions to prevent future occurrence.”

He added: “You [UK High Commissioner] said the matters touch on visa fraud, but I think we should distinguish between visa fraud from people abusing their stay in the UK, i.e. overstaying their permit in the UK. Fraud connotes an idea that some misrepresentations was made or the visa itself has been tampered with.

“If you overstay your visa it is not visa fraud. Let us distinguish the matter clearly: if you overstay you visa, it means you have overstayed your visa and that is a different category. Even that one you can be banned for overstaying your visa, but if you used certain illegal means to procure the visa and in the end it is realised that some misrepresentations were made at the time of procuring the visa, then that is visa fraud.

“And so if you title the letter “visa fraud”, and you wrote a letter to the Speaker of Parliament for some actions to be taken, I do not see the essence of copying that same letter to all the other diplomatic corps.”