The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration has responded to a petition filed by the Consumer Protection Agency(CPA) over the complaints of mistreatment at the various foreign embassies in the country.
Below is the full statement read by Kofi Capito, the Executive Secretary of CPA at a press conference in Accra
PRESS STATEMENT ON THE RESPONSE BY THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS ON THE ABUSE OF GHANAIANS BY FOREIGN MISSIONS IN GHANA.
Sometime in June 2017, the CPA upon receiving numerous complaints from the Ghanaian public about the unfair, disrespect and abuse by some foreign embassies in Ghana. The CPA wrote a petition to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about these complaints. We are grateful to the Honourable Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway for taking her time to engage some of the Foreign Embassies that the CPA raised concerns about.
On November 20th 2017, the CPA received a letter from the Ministry as to the response from some of the embassies.
The CPA’s complaints were as follows;
British High Commission
- The Ghanaian who accesses visa to travel to the U.K could only pay for the visa with a credit or debit card, unfortunately Ghana is a 99% cash society, a practice that was available for people paying for visas by the British High Commission.
- Another concern raised was about no refund given to applicants who pay for higher category of visas and are given lesser ones. E.g. if u pay for a two year visa and you are given six months, you are not given the price difference.
- The Ghanaian applicant’s passport when submitted at the presentation centre @Movenpick Hotel is sent to the United Kingdom for Processing.
- When you want to enquire locally, you have to pay an international fee for email and telephone in the English Pounds Sterling.
- Appeal process is not available for applicants to appear.
- American Embassy deprives applicants of their personal belongings when they enter their premises.
- The interview process does not afford any privacy between the consulate and the applicant, other applicants can hear loudly the interview process which is supposed to be private.
- Also, The American Embassy gives the same generic refusal sheet to all applicants and also does not afford the applicants the appeal process.
The People’s Republic of ChinaThe Chinese have made it so difficult for the Ghanaian businessman who has travelled on numerous occasions unable to access Chinese visas unless through agents who collect between $500 to $1000 to facilitate the process.
Other embassies like the Canadian, French, Danish, Italian and most of the other Embassies treat Ghanaians as second class citizens in our own country.
The CPA is happy that the Parliamentary Select Committee on Foreign Affairs raised a similar concern on behalf of their constituents.
Diplomacy, which is supposed to be reciprocal between countries for free movement is very difficult for the Ghanaian traveler
If Foreign Nationals do not go through same treatment when they visit Ghanaian Embassies abroad, the CPA thinks that Ghanaians in Ghana should be treated same by these Foreign Embassies in Ghana.
This is the response from
- The American Embassy
- The mission has adopted measures to improve the privacy during interviews
- Applicants are currently allowed to have access to their essential personal belongings such as sanitary pads ,medications whiles at the embassy
- Improved the duration of issuing visa to within a week.
- To provide regular capacity building of consular officers at the embassy.
- The People’s Republic of ChinaThe mission denied allegations about the embassy’s involvement with the use of middlemen and agents who charge up to one thousand US Dollars (US$1,000) to assist applicants obtain visa
The Mission has introduced a mechanism of credible guarantee letters and the cancelling of visa records after the applicant returns from China, effective form 1st November 2017. This Embassy has explained is designed to facilitate visa application by applicants of key Ghanaian government departments, major enterprises, universities and research institutions to enable them apply for visas to china without the presentation of duly authorized invitation letters.
III. The British High Commission
- Acknowledged the current delays within the visa application process which was associated with the recent revision to their application process. However, according to the embassy the revision had been instituted by the home office and therefore the concerns would be conveyed to them accordingly.
- Passports were no longer sent to the United Kingdom for processing and that the decentralization of the decision processes were now from Sheffield to Croydon which would allow for an expedited process of visa application.
- The High Commission disclosed that the issue of refund of visa fees was a rule and could not be refundable. However, the Mission conceded that case needed to be made for those who paid for a higher category of visa but were rather issued with a lower category.
- Finally the High Commission agreed to consult their capital on the question of the revision of the payment process as well as payment by phone calls since most Ghanaians do not use credit and debit cards.
Upon our checks, these practices are still unchanged. The CPA is taking the opportunity to plead on behalf o f Ghanaians that the government of Ghana through its agents in charge of Foreign Affairs; The Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs to engage these Foreign Embassies to desist from disrespecting Ghanaians.
The CPA would wait to hear or see the little changes accepted by the embassies being implemented.
Ghanaians are very anxious to take to the street to demonstrate.
We look forward to your cooperation in upholding our rights as citizens of this country.