Concerns Raised by Foreign Affairs Minister Regarding Passport Office Practices.
Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, has expressed her reservations about the prevailing issue of corruption and extortion within the Passport Office.
Following her visit to the Passport Office on August 14, the Minister expressed surprise at the irregularities applicants were facing, attributed to the actions of certain staff members.
In 2021, a UNODC report identified passport agency officials in Ghana as susceptible to bribery. The Minister expressed regret over such misconduct, given the significant role the Passport Office plays in facilitating international travel.
As a response, the Minister has instructed security officials who have overstayed their secondment at the Passport Office to suspend their duty from August 21, 2023.
“We have consistently emphasized that agencies should not retain staff beyond a year, yet this directive is sometimes overlooked. I am determined to ensure strict compliance,” she stated.
She emphasized during an interview that a thorough investigation is underway to address the current situation.
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“We are actively investigating and have promising leads that we are pursuing. It is deeply troubling,” she added. The Minister noted that attempts to modernize Passport Office operations through digitization have been hampered by specific employees manipulating the online application system for personal gain.
She urged Passport Office staff to abstain from unethical conduct and extortion. The Minister called on them to uphold professional standards, exhibit high work ethics, and treat applicants respectfully. Meanwhile, ongoing investigations are progressing concerning the activities of “goro boys,” who exploit applicants with the collusion of office personnel.
The Minister stressed that these external actors require the involvement of certain individuals within the Passport Office.
She cautioned that those responsible will face legal consequences as a deterrent to others.
In essence, the Minister underlined that these external actors cannot operate independently, stressing the necessity of collaboration with specific individuals within the Passport Office.
She warned that those found guilty will undergo legal proceedings to discourage similar behavior in the future.