JUBA – The National Dialogue Steering Committee has asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to regulate the use of diplomatic passports as it aims to strengthen its foreign policy.
“The ministry of foreign affairs needs to put a policy of when they can withdraw diplomatic passports or stop the use of diplomatic passports from constitutional post holders who have already been relieved,” Betty Achan Okwaro, the acting co-chair of the national dialogue said on Thursday.
The is after the deputy minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation revealed that many ex-government officials are refusing to hand in their diplomatic passports whenever they are replaced.
Deng Dau Deng said many government officials prefer diplomatic passports to special or official passports, explaining why there are many holders of diplomatic passports.
“Everybody wants to be a boss, everybody wants to be distinguished that they are very serious this is why the diplomatic passport is a problem,” Deng Dau told delegates at the ongoing national dialogue conference while briefing them about South Sudan’s foreign policy.
“You know how many governors and how many ministers have been appointed in this country. And if you are appointed and removed, we hold the passport and the person who has been appointed needs a new passport. Why are people refusing to hand in the passport?”
According to the Passport and Immigration Act 2011, diplomatic passports are issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs primarily to Foreign Service Officers.
Special passports, on the other hand, are granted to government officials to transact official business in another foreign country.
While Ordinary Passports and Emergency Travel Documents are issued by the Directorate of Nationality, Passport and Immigration to ordinary South Sudanese.
A holder of a diplomatic passport enjoys diplomatic immunity in a foreign country. It also allows diplomats to travel freely with their immediate family throughout the world.
For these privileges, the deputy foreign minister said many government officials prefer diplomatic passports to special passports.
Others, whose mandates have expired, reportedly refused to surrender their diplomatic passports to the authorities.
The Passport and Immigration Act stipulates that upon the direction of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Directorate of Nationality, Passport and Immigration shall withdraw or cancel a Diplomatic or Special Passport, in accordance with the regulations.
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