The South Sudan government on Friday said it would impose restrictions on the issuance of diplomat and special passports, citing misuse of such documents.
Speaking to reporters after the cabinet meeting, Information Minister Michael Makuei said it has come to the notice of the government that there are so many people who possess diplomat and special passports, but they do not deserve to hold them.
“This issue of passports has become a problem, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has come to realize that there are so many passports that have been issued especially diplomatic passports to those who do not deserve and as such, it is causing us problems all over the world,” Makuei said.
He said many South Sudanese holding diplomatic passports are causing inconveniences while travelling worldwide and that the government will now restrict issuing the passports.
“There are a lot of people travelling all over the world with diplomatic passports without official positions, and as such, it causes inconvenience to others, so the minister quoted the provision of the law and requested the cabinet to support him in the implementation or operationalization of the provisions of the law so that these passports are given to the people who deserve them,” he said.
“So whenever anybody is deprived of that, then when he complains, it should be known that the minister is doing nothing other than implementing the provisions of the law,” Makuei added.
Reacting to the news, Ter Manyang, a South Sudanese civil society activist, welcomed the government’s move and called for clear guidelines for issuing diplomatic passports.
“The issuance of diplomatic passports has become a problem. Sometimes people who are not supposed to have a diplomatic passport have it simply because they want to gain that demand as a diplomat. I am just wondering because everything in South Sudan, there is a lot of corruption, even in passport control,” Activist Manyang told South Sudanese local press.
“This is good news from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and also they are supposed to put the criteria for who should get the diplomatic passport. If they answer this question, this is when they will have control about this, but if there is no such a guideline, the common citizen will acquire a diplomatic passport,” he added.
Article 8 of the South Sudan Passports and Immigration Act of 2011 says that diplomatic and special passports may be issued to South Sudanese nationals upon the direction of the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
It further says the diplomatic and special passports shall remain valid for such periods as the Minister for Foreign Affairs may prescribe in the regulations.