In Summary
  • The issue: Ugandan passports.
  • Our view: We recommend that a credible investigation be carried out on the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control and other concerned agencies.

Government must put in place measures to restore trust in the Ugandan passport and allay any fears that the same are compromised or are in the wrong hands.

The citizenship of Ugandans and the standing of our passports are very important and must be a jealously guarded entitlement. The disturbing reports that the Ugandan citizenship and passports can be acquired by non-citizens to facilitate their criminal enterprise and without going through the due process must be investigated and the culprits be brought to book.

What is even more disturbing is that these activities are, reportedly, perpetuated by rogue immigration officers, among others, against their oath of service. Reports that a crackdown on the same is underway including an arrest of a top immigration official, last month, on such allegations are encouraging but not sufficient.

We recommend that a credible investigation be carried out on the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control and other concerned agencies such as the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) which issue documents such as the national identity cards relied on to award one a passport. The investigations must be done with a view of weeding out all criminals hiding under the cover of these important institutions. The same, we hope, can make recommendations that will be implemented without fail.

We take note that previous investigations have, mainly, been about fighting for jobs only to perpetuate the ills that have got us in the current state. We have received reports from Ugandans in countries such as China who narrate harrowing tales of the degradation of the Ugandan passport after many foreign nationals like Nigerians travelling on Ugandan passports are arrested for drug trafficking.

In turn, legitimate Ugandan passport holders are finding it hard to do business in such countries or are subjected to higher levels of scrutiny and are sometimes denied visa-entry because of the suspicion on our passport. There is evidence to support these concerns.

Uganda is expected to migrate from the current Machine Readable (MRP) passport to the electronic passport (e-Passport) next year according to immigration authorities. But even the e-Passport, dubbed the most secure in the world, will only work effectively if the data captured by authorities is of those legally entitled to Ugandan citizenship, and if that data is not compromised through corrupt schemes by rogue officials. For now, we hope that the existing process will be managed at a very high standard and with the most thorough investigation of the persons who apply for citizenship and passports.