By Martina George
The Prevention Department of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has held an inception meeting with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security following an invitation by the ministry to review structural immigration issues in order to improve job opportunities for sierra Leoneans abroad, and ensure conducive working conditions for them.
Giving the overview and purpose of the meeting, the Deputy Director of Prevention Department, ACC, Patrick Martine George, applauded the Ministry for extending an invitation to the Commission in order to conduct thematic review on structural issues at the Ministry, particularly those related to employments abroad.
The Head of Policy and Ethics Unit at the ACC, Joseph Kangaju Esq, in his statement, gave a brief run down on how the review will be done.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry Ahmed M. Mustapha, in his statement, said that the ban on overseas employment programs has been lifted and six licenses have been issued out to private agencies. He reiterated the need for the review and assured the ACC that the Ministry will give their full collaboration and support towards the exercise.
In his statement, International Corruption Prevention Law and Policy Consultant at the ACC Dr. Patrick Sovie, Esq., explained that the Visa 20 issued to workers entering the Middle East is humiliating and degrading, given the manner workers are maltreated by some of the agencies after the workers travel out of Sierra Leone. He registered that he had once involved in such travelling programs and had at one point in time sent a letter to the Chief Justice to put a stop on the issuance of Visa 20. He said that agencies often receive huge sums of money as payment and processing fees for documents, but in the end the travelling documents are confiscated from the workers who are confided indoors as they are considered ‘bought’.
Deputy Minister of the Ministry Lansana Mohamed Dumbuya applauded the Commission for honoring their invitation, stating that, moving forward, they will be using the Visa 18, which gives the workers more rights and freedom; adding that the Ministry’s Consultant has already kicked against the Visa 20. He praised the ACC’s International Corruption Prevention Law and Policy Consultant, whom he described as having vast knowledge on the said issues.