Regional News of Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Source: GNA

Interior Minister asks GIS to tighten immigration laws

Mr William Kwasi Aboah, Minister of the Interior, has called on the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), to ensure that laws to regulate the movement of people in and out of the country were applied to the letter.

"There is a growing perception that the country is being flooded with illegal immigrants. Some manage to acquire working permits through the back door, and others stay in the country illegally."

The Interior Minister made the call during his maiden familiarization tour of the GIS in Accra on Wednesday.

He said during the last few months, the Ministry had received reports of illegal immigrants in the small scale mining sector, which was raising "serious" security and environmental issues.

"Illegal immigrants have been arrested with weapons and investigations have shown that most of them did not have the required work and residence permits, while others possessed forged or wrongly issued ones," he said.

Mr Aboah said it appeared most of these illegal immigrants entered the country through the visa on arrival facility, and challenged the GIS to "review the visa issuing procedures, ensure a tighter work permit adjudicating process, and put in place a more robust enforcement system."

The Sector Minister commended the GIS for its "Four Year Strategic Plan" launched in September 2011 saying, "I have read the document and appreciate your efforts to address the challenges of the Service."

He said government was aware of the huge shortfalls of logistics and financial requirements of the Service, including acute shortage of office and residential accommodation, vehicles, weapons for the Border Patrol Unit, and communication equipment.

Mr Aboah said it was the avowed commitment of government to equip the GIS and other security services "to enable you perform effectively and efficiently".

He urged GIS personnel to brace themselves up for the "crucial" role they would be playing in Election 2012 adding that "remember the oath you took on your enlistment into the Service. Endeavour not to compromise your professionalism under any circumstances".

Commissioner of Police Dr Peter Wiredu, Acting Director General of GIS, said Mr Aboah had played a great part in the institutional development of the GIS, during his four-year period as the Director of the Service, from 1994 to 2001.

"Records available speak volumes of relentless efforts Mr Aboah put in, during the formative years of the newly established Ghana Immigration Service, a legal creature of PNDC Law 226, in 1989.

The GIS Director General said presently, the Service faced dire logistical constraints which hampered its operations saying "naturally, the rapid growth and expansion of the GIS over the past 23 years have brought in its trail, challenges, particularly in the areas of institutional funding and essential logistics, which continues to hamper the administrative and operational effectiveness of the service in many ways".

He said the Service faced a huge deficit in its office and residential accommodation for its estimated 4,000 personnel, and that, less than 10 per cent of the personnel were provided with accommodation facilities, mostly from private rented premises.

He said inadequate supply of vehicles, communication and other operational facilities, greatly hampered the duties of personnel saying "most Regional Commanders do not have dependable means of transport as command vehicles and officers and men have resorted to the purchase of uniforms, materials and other accessories from shops on their own volition.

Dr Wiredu said GIS would mainly need funding from government, to achieve it's four-year strategic plan adding that GIS would ensure that it lived up to its mandate and contributed to ensuring the total security and stability of the nation.**