By DailyNews Correspondent
The Minister of Internal Affairs Gen Jeje Odong has disclosed that the Government is investigating circumstances under which 93 diplomatic passports were issued to some Ugandans and non-Ugandans who do not qualify for these Special kind of passports.
A Ugandan Diplomatic passport is issued to specific individuals to travel to specific countries and world territories without a prior VISA. The Ugandan Passport is ranked the 78th in the world.
Appearing before the parliamentary committee on Defense and internal affairs on Wednesday, Gen. Jeje Odongo, the minister of internal affairs told the MPs that his ministry had started investigating the matter and would take action.
Former Commissioner Immigration – Anthony Namara
President Yoweri Museveni recently suspended two Immigration directorate officials pending investigations by police and Inspectorate of Government. The two are Godfery Sasaga, the Director Immigration and Commissioner Anthony Namara (above). In letter to the Minister of Internal Affairs which was copied to the Permanent Secretary in the same ministry, Museveni directed the two to handover office to PS Dr Benon Mutambi Mugisha.
“The issuance of 93 diplomatic passports is being investigated. How do Nigerians and so on, acquire our passports,” Gen. Jeje Odongo wondered. The ministers’ decision to investigate the matter, followed complaints from MPs on how non-Ugandans were acquiring Ugandan diplomatic passport.
Kawempe south MP Mubarak Munyangwa said; “Recently I was traveling to Canada and next to me was a gentleman who I asked how he acquired the diplomatic passport he was carrying and in response he told me is because he is a businessman.”
Among the people allowed to possess diplomatic passports are government ministers and their spouses, foreign affairs service officers, their spouses and children below the age of 18. Others are the head of public service, judges, the governor and deputy governor of the Central Bank. According to the law, chancellors and vice-chancellors of all state universities, religious leaders of the Catholic, Anglican Muslim and Orthodox faiths are also entitled. Also eligible for diplomatic passports are the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Permanent Secretaries, as well as Chiefs of Permanent commissions.
Back in 2013, Thailand and UK backlisted VIP passports from Uganda at a time when former regional affairs minister Isaac Musumba and Igara East MP Michael Mawanda Maranga, were held in Mumbai, India, over charges of extortion. The two allegedly had diplomatic passports, which they were not supposed to possess.
In 2008, British legislators urged their government to scrutinize holders of diplomatic passports arriving and leaving the UK. They were reportedly furious that the Uganda government was ignorant of the number of diplomatic passports issued.
Rose Birungi, an ex-aide to Salim Saleh, OWC Chief was remanded for trafficking Class A cocaine while travelling on a Ugandan diplomatic passport. Others who have previously been arrested while in possession of diplomatic passports are Ananias Tumukunde, a presidential advisor, John Mugisha, who were netted in 2010 with cocaine.
The Ugandan Passport: Uganda’s passport has been ranked among the most powerful on the continent and globally, according to The Henly and Partners Visa Restriction index 2017.
According to the 2017 index, Ugandan passport, is ranked at 75 globally, her citizens can travel to 61 countries in the world without a visa. In Africa, Kenya is ranked at number six while Tanzania is in 11th position. Uganda is in15th position. Fast growing Rwanda is fourth in the region. With Rwandan passport ranked 85th globally, its citizens could enter 51 destinations visa-free.
Tanzanian passport in 75th position on global travel freedom index, Tanzanians can to travel 65 countries visa-free.
Kenya passport leads in the region as it can travel to 69 countries visa-free and was ranked at 68th position globally. At fifth position is Burundi where its citizen could enter visa-free 44 nations and ranked 91th on global index
According to the index, citizens in the war torn South Sudan could travel to 37 countries without visa. The country’s passport is ranked 96th globally.
The number one strong traveling document in Africa was Seychelles where its citizens enjoy similar visa free traveling privilege as Europeans. Seychelles ranked 29th globally and its passport is accepted visa-free to 137 countries.
The second in Africa was Mauritius, ranked 33rd globally, its passport is accepted without visa in 131 nations.
The third in Africa was South Africa ranked 55, its citizens can travel to 98 countries without a visa. Botswana is in the 4th, position followed by Namibia in 5th position, Lesotho and Malawi tied on 7th, and Swaziland at 9th position.
The bottom in the list in Africa was Somalia ranked 100 above Syria. According to index, the global number one strong passport is that of Germany, where its citizens could travel to 176 countries visa-free.