The order from the Speaker follows a statement on the floor of parliament on Wednesday by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for North Tongu in the Volta Region, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa to draw attention of parliament to the inhumane treatment being meted out to Ghanaian visa applicants by the various embassies in the country.
The North Tongu MP who is also the ranking member on Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament in a statement on the floor said from numerous complaints of maltreatment by embassy staff, he personally undertook ‘underground’ investigations and was shocked to see how Ghanaian visa applicants were treated at the various embassies.
“Mr Speaker, you find fellow Ghanaians standing in the open spaces, some left to wait at the shoulders of the streets and roundabouts with no one caring about the associated risks posed by motorists while others are left at the mercy of the weather and in the scorching sun,” he said stressing that apart from this maltreatment, visa applicants are also subjected to verbal abuse.
He also expressed concern about the exorbitant visa application fees charged by these embassies.
“Mr speaker, a new trend is also emerging where some embassies apart from their standard visa processing fees, demand all kinds of extra fees and charges under various guises of express fees, early appointment fees, email fees, text message fees and so on,” he said adding that the sad reality is that embassies who charge all these extra fees do not keep to their side of the bargain while vulnerable visa applicants are made to pay for the inefficiency and unreliability of the embassies.
“Mr Speaker, the time has come for all of us to accept that visa applicants from every nation on this planet have rights. Visa applicants deserve respect from the embassies,” he asserted.
The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu said it is not only ordinary citizens who suffer these ordeals at the hands of embassy staff stressing that Members of Parliament and sometimes government officials go through such ordeals which are unacceptable.
He said the embassies must know that there are international conventions which compel foreign embassies to treat visa applicants with dignity and respect.
Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament, Frank Annoh-Dompreh gave the assurance that the committee would do a thorough investigation into the matter and bring its findings to the plenary for action to be taken by parliament.