Sierra Leonean embassy in Germany becomes dealer of EU-citizenship. Is the Foreign Minister Haja Hawa Zinab Bangura aware?
When the Sierra Leonean community we heard about the appointment of Mr. Jongopie Siaka Stevens as Ambassador to represent our country in this part of the world, we were very optimistic that he was going to do his best to change the rotten system that had prevailed at our embassy in Germany for more than a decade.Â Particularly (we) the APC loyalist were very proud of having him since unlike his other brothers; he had hitherto worked at a low profile in the Ministry of Health in Freetown, regardless his status as one of former president Siaka Stevensâ€™ sons.Â We even chanted BRAVO!, BRAVO!, BRAVO!, When he quickly announced the relocation of our embassy from the fealty building in Bohn where it existed for decades, to the countryâ€™s capital Berlin.Â (Photo: Ambassador Jongopie Siaka Stevens)
Contrarily to our expectations however, the embassy seemed to be working with the same old pattern as we realised with great disappointment, that all charges for consular services at the embassy have been skyrocket after Ambassador Stevensâ€™ arrival.
The worse of it all is citizenship renunciation process. Â It must be noted that the German government has the policy of verifying naturalising applicants through their home embassies before granting them German citizenship. After meeting all the prerequisites including citizenship examination (EinbÃ¼rgerungstest), German language proficiency (Sprachnachweis) and many, many other procedural protocols that will cost the applicant a lot of time and money, itâ€™s a normal policy that the already prepared German passport shall be sent to the home embassy of the applicant for final delivery. The German government is doing so with the hope of minimizing the possibility of granting their citizenship to the wrong person.Â Diplomats at our embassy who knows that every second Sierra Leonean in the country is desperate to give up his/her Sierra Leonean citizenship and that the particular applicant, whose passport has been sent to them for onward delivery, had gone through all those herculean bureaucratic barriers in order to posses the precious German â€œPâ€ as itâ€™s usually called, are now ceasing the opportunity to heat on a get-rich-quick scheme of breath-taking simplicity by extorting fabulous sum of Euros from the successful applicant before releasing to him/her the German â€œPâ€ as if it was prepared at Immigration headquarters in Freetown.
The Ghanaian embassy is requesting â‚¬190 for citizenship renunciation process; Nigerian embassy requests â‚¬200 which will cover correspondences including postage by DHL since such decisions are endorsed directly by their respective home governments. Â Unlike the Sierra Leonean embassy, which only states few lines and sign by whosoever is in charged without consulting anybody at home, is increasing the fees on daily bases.Â I paid â‚¬400 two years ago for renouncing my Sierra Leonean citizenship; others paid â‚¬500 last year and some are now paying â‚¬600. But the baffling part of it is that every embassy in the country has a website where all charges for consular activities are clearly stated, except Sierra Leone. Â Click to see the Ghanaian embassy for example: http://www.ghanaemberlin.de/. Â
Itâ€™s note worthy that citizenship is individual right; itâ€™s therefore undemocratic to charge someone for giving it up.Â None of us would love to give up his/her golden citizenship if only our leaders were honest in managing our affairs.Â Some of us who hastily booked tickets to visit Sierra Leone in the last two years with the hope of witnessing positive changes came back to Europe with great disappointment as most of our colleagues were being chased by armed-robbers. We are giving up the Sierra Leonean passport because we are no longer proud of it in this part of the world.Â The same embassy which is now extorting â‚¬600 from us in exchange of the German citizenship is responsible for the existence of the Sierra Leonean passports in the hands of millions of notorious foreign prostitutes, credit card forgers and drug-dealers Â including Nigerians, Lebanese, Guineans, you name them. Â
Furthermore, when compared to countries like Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, the Gambia, which are relatively attractive destinations for western tourists and investors, Sierra Leone is far down the ladder interns of development, yet it renders the most expensive consular services in Europe.Â The Nigerian and Ghanaian embassies in Berlin are requesting â‚¬50 for a single entry tourist/visitorâ€™s visa, which is normally valid for three months.Â The Liberian embassy knowing full well that its country chiefly depends on foreign donors and therefore needs to encourage foreign visitors, is demanding â‚¬150 for a whole-year visa.
Before Ambassador Stevensâ€™ arrival, the Sierra Leonean embassy which suppose to request the least, was requesting â‚¬100 for a single entry visa.Â Ridiculously enough, this amount has been increased to â‚¬130. Even infants born to Sierra Leonean citizens who carry German passports due to legal reasons are not exempted from such charges.Â One must note that all embassies in the world normally charge for infants half of adult visa fees except the Sierra Leonean embassy in Germany, which extort the notorious â‚¬130 for all ages.
Most of us are APC party loyalist though, but we have realised that if situation remain unchecked as we continue to exercise blind-loyalty by keeping our mouths shut and our critic-fingers off our keyboards, we might finally loose all our bases of political influence to our antagonist.
The million dollar questions which remain unanswered are: who is stipulating those notorious fees being extorted from us and for what purpose is it being used?Â Are the extorters really accountable to our home government? Is our Foreign Minister, Haja Hawa Zainab Bangura aware of it?Hassan B. Mansarray, Munich, Germany
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