May 8, 2015
Deputy Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Shollay Davies, has called on the Immigration Department to improve on its services to meet modern day standards of operations. He made the call on Tuesday during a debriefing with the Chief Immigration Officer and team on the ACC’s overt observation of the department in 2014.
The deputy ACC chief noted that the challenges at the Immigration Department are numerous.
Some of their findings he highlighted were the illegal issuing of Sierra Leonean passports to foreign nationals and the “ineffective communication” between the National Revenue Authority (NRA) staff and the Chief Accountant at the Immigration Department with regards revenue collection; a situation he said creates room for corruption.
He cited the problems of inadequate level of public awareness on the services of the Immigration Department and coordination of challenges between the Landing Visa Unit and officers at the Lungi airport. These, he said, are exacerbated by the weak policy environments which are “crucial issues in modern day management”.
Mr. Davies described the legislations governing the Immigration Department as ailing, thus the need for serious consideration to be given to them.
He however commended the Immigration Department for being the first public institution to embrace the Service Charter, which he said has been of immense benefit to both institutions and members of the public. He also applauded them for initiating the drafting of the National Migration Policy.
“The Production Department of the Immigration Department should be the sole agent for drafting daily production list rather than the secretary to the Chief Immigration Officer,” he declared. “All monetary transactions for passports should be paid into the Immigration Department’s bank account and not to individuals.”
Corruption, he added, sometimes exists during cash transactions directly to individuals and therefore admonished the Chief Immigration Officer to ensure that oversight functions, such as landing visas which are being delegated, meet standard requirements.
In his response, the Chief Immigration Officer (CIO), Kholifa Koroma, informed the meeting that the findings and recommendations of the ACC have indicted their institution and therefore they need to work very hard on set policies so as to correct the anomalies.
Mr. Koroma noted that the institution faces some challenges, including pressure from members of the public whom he said do not always want to adhere to the costs for services spelled out in the Service Charter.
On the issuance of Sierra Leonean passports to foreign nationals, Mr. Koroma said during his tenure as CIO, he ensured that all applications go through the Central Processing and the Intelligence and Investigations Units before the issuance of passport. He said hundreds of passport application forms are under investigations, the reason he said they need to work with the Births and Deaths Department and the National Registration Secretariat.
He updated the meeting on ongoing work on the National Migration Policy and the transition to biometric passport, and assured the ACC team that they will put measures in place to ensure better and quality service delivery.