November 1, 2019
By Jariatu S. Bangura
Members of Parliament yesterday ratified visa exemption for holders of diplomatic, service and special passports to Turkey and Brazil.
The agreements were signed between the Government of Sierra Leone and the Republic of Turkey and the Federative Republic of Brazil.
Presenting the agreements to lawmakers, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Nabeela F. Tunis, said the Brazil agreement will facilitate visa free travel between the two countries, especially for government officials and other persons holding diplomatic, official and service passports.
She said it will allow eligible citizens of both countries to travel, transit, or remain in the respective countries for up to 90 days without the need to obtain a visa.
The minister said the agreement stipulates that diplomatic, service and special passport holders must have at least 6 months to expiration date before being regarded as valid.
He noted that apart from those accredited to diplomatic consular and international organization posts, the agreement does not guarantee the right to work or engage in any profession in both countries to all holders of the said passports unless the appropriate visas have been obtained.
She said Sierra Leone and Turkey would retain the power to enforce their respective immigration laws, including the right to deny entry or shorten the period of stay in their respective countries without stating any reasons once the agreement is ratified.
In his contribution, Hon. Dickson M. Rogers of Constituency 100,Pujehun District, said the agreements if ratified will be good as they clearly showed that the country has taken its rightful position in the diplomatic arena.
He said since there is no flight that could be boarded directly to Brazil and Turkey, the Minister of Foreign Affairs should endeavour to create means as to how to get transit visas where necessary.
Hon. Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella of the National Grand Coalition said the collaboration with Brazil will be good for the country as it would gain opportunities in the agricultural productivity, bioenergy and hydropower, thus urging them to approve the agreements.
Hon. Hassan A. Sesay submitted that the ratification of the agreements would open potential opportunities that the country would tap into.
He added that it would also boost the country’s technology and agricultural sectors, noting that Turkey has lots of benefits from which the country stands to benefit, thus citing textile production.
The Independent Member of Parliament, Hon. Shiaka M. Sama made a passionate plea for the free visa travel to be also extended to the ordinary Sierra Leoneans and not only for few people in governance.