In a resounding effort and remarkable strategic plan in strengthening the Sierra Leone Immigration Department in twine with His Excellency, President Dr. Julius Maada Bio’s agenda, the erudite Chief Immigration Boss, Hon. Alusine Kanneh has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Immigration Office of the Kingdom of Belgium.
The Chief Immigration Boss, Hon. Alusine Kanneh, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Immigration Office of the Kingdom of Belgium to strengthen the Sierra Leone Immigration Department in line with President Dr. Julius Maada Bio’s agenda. The MOU aims to foster collaboration between the two countries, with a focus on strategic immigration issues such as border management control, information exchange capacity, visa processes, security intelligence exchange programs, technology integration, humanitarian efforts, and migration policies1.
After the signing of the MOU, the Director-General of the Belgium Migration Office, Frederick Rosemont, expressed his gratitude to the CIO and team for their visit to Brussels and for signing the MOU on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone. He also mentioned that all concerns raised during the engagement have been taken into consideration, especially the provision of short-term capacity-building programs for Sierra Leone’s immigration officers starting next year.
Freddy Rosemont emphasized that the MOU will focus on observing human rights and freedom, and that the present Agreement would not prejudice the rights and obligations of the two sister countries under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948 and under international treaties, in particular; the Conventions of 28 July 1951 relating to the Status of Refugees, as amended by the protocol of 32 January 1957 relating to the Status of Refugees1. He also noted that the Parties will strengthen their cooperation to disrupt and dismantle organizations and others involved in facilitating illegal immigration, and that designated authorities will work to promote effective methods and take joint actions to prevent any flow of illegal immigration
He noted that the Parties will strengthen their cooperation to disrupt and dismantle organizations and others involved in facilitating illegal immigration, noting that designated Authorities will work to promote effective methods and take joint actions to prevent any flow of illegal immigration.
The Director General opined that the Parties will cooperate in identifying training initiatives with a mutual interest for both Countries, adding that the Parties will exchange trainers and trainees in developing other initiatives concerning areas of mutual interest, related to immigration.
He maintained that the Parties will be committed in accordance with their national legislation, stating, to encourage the return of nationals of the other party who have decided to return voluntarily to their origin, by defining and implementing targeted and specific measures.
“With this in mind, the country of stay would consider granting assistance likely to promote the reintegration of such persons in their country of origin.”
Speaking after signing the MOU, the Sierra Leone Chief Immigration Officer thanked and appreciated the Belgian Immigration Office for inviting them to sign such an MOU, which he described as a “right step in the right direction.”
Hon. Alusine Kanneh said the MOU was holistic, and their visit to Brussels was to come and see how they can combat the issue of illegal migration on borders both in Belgium and in Sierra Leone.
The former Lawmaker further requested for capacity building programmes from his Belgium counterpart as training on border control and immigration issues are pertinent to national security.
He further disclosed that the signed MOU covers a broad range of benefits for Sierra Leone, especially for migration purposes. Revealing the ordeal of seeking asylum in Belgium.
He stated that before the signing of the MOU, hardly ever had Sierra Leoneans sought asylum in Belgium compared to other African nationals, citing a report from the Belgium Immigration Office that only one Sierra Leonean requested asylum in Belgium a year.
“We are here to see how we are also able to work together as better institutions for Belgium and for Sierra Leone. And one of the things I talked about which I believe our country is like today is the visa process in which I have already started the conversation with them. I know the foreign affairs ministry is in charge but I told them that we want to see the process start in Freetown wherein they can start issuing Schenge visas to Sierra Leoneans in Freetown” he said.
The Chief Immigration Officer, elaborated that the relationship between the two institutions, which has been developed over the years, allows them to work concertedly to further strengthen border security and boost bilateral cooperation.
The CIO sounded that the MOU signed surrounds migration as a whole to see people who come to Belgium to seek asylum or to identify the right people.“Even though according to what they said, Sierra Leoneans are not into that here in Belgium but for us to get the coordination for tomorrow.”
During the signing ceremony, Hon. Kanneh stressed the necessity of issuing Schenge visas in Sierra Leone, which the relevant authorities of the Belgium Immigration Office have given an indication of their willingness to hold discussions on its implementation.
“Our visit will help strengthen institutions like the Immigration to ensure that the right thing is done. Immigration is the gateway to any country. This is also a learning process and we are learning about their policies, systems and procedures of which we hope to adopt and implement to ensure best practices,” Hon. Kanneh ended.
While emphasizing the importance of border control and information sharing, he also mentioned that Sierra Leone is a reliable partner; therefore, they are working hard to see how they can address visa processes between the two countries.
Prior to the signing ceremony, presentations were done by senior staff of the Services, focusing on a multidisciplinary approach to combating human trafficking and Border Management.
It could be recalled that the CIO and team, including Mr Allieu Bakarr Conteh, Director of Admin and Finance, Mr James Cooper- Deputy Director, Border Management and Migration, and Mrs Patricia Kargobai, Senior Immigration Officer, arrived in Brussels on Monday, 18th December 2023, on the invitation of the Belgium Immigration Services. The team visited different holding centres in Brussels and the Belgium Printrak (system fingerprint).
Prior to the signing ceremony, presentations were done by senior staff of the Services, focusing on multidisciplinary approach to combating human trafficking and Border Management.