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Sierra Leone News: SL Embassy in Brussels risks being closed

The Sierra Leone Embassy in Brussels has failed to honour its responsibilities under the Vienna and Valetta conventions on diplomacy, according to Minority Leader in Parliament, Hon. Bernadette Lahai. The Embassy risks being closed. The Sierra Leone Embassy in Brussels is important because of its strategic location and its accreditation to the European Union.
MP Lahai made this disclosure on Tuesday 12 September, while presenting her report on the visit to the Embassy in Brussels where they held meetings with the Ambassador and senior staff.
Apparently, there’s a lack of staff. In Brussels, there are two senior staff, the Head and Deputy of Chancery and the Ambassador, Ibrahim Sorie. Only senior staff are eligible to attend official meetings on behalf of the country. According to MP Lahai, this is affecting the country’s representation in the European community.
Hon. Lahai said there are over 300,000 Sierra Leoneans in Brussels and countries covered by the Embassy. Some Sierra Leoneans are residing legally while others are in conflict with the laws and have immigration problems.
She stated that those who fall foul of the laws relating to immigration and crime where taken to the Embassy for proper verification to make sure they are true Sierra Leonean. The Vienna Convention and the Valetta one and two Convention make provisions for a country to work with another country to repatriate it citizens who fall foul with laws.
“The problem they are facing in repatriating people has to do with the Emergency Travel Certificate (ETC). On a few occasions when countries have repatriated people, those people have been denied entry as Sierra Leoneans,” she said.
She maintained that the deportees would have to return to Brussels and the Belgium Authorities are not happy with Sierra Leone. The Sierra Leonean Embassy have been summoned by the Belgian Authorities on the issue, which is very embarrassing.
The Minority Leader accused the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Internal Affairs and the Immigration Department of being the problem. She called on the various Committees in Parliament to take the necessary actions.
She maintained that finance is another issue affecting the operations of the Embassy. “The Subvention of the Embassy should be sent every three months but we were informed that they are receiving their subvention after every six months,” she disclosed.
Speaking on behalf of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Public Relations Officer, Emmanuel Turay, disclosed the issue of ETC has to do with the Immigration Department while his Ministry is responsible for the traveling of people.
He disclosed they need to verify deportees before allowing them in the country to ascertain identities and to determine if they are true Sierra Leoneans.
Verification of people is not the business of the Embassy but the Immigration Department, which has to send officials to conduct the exercise. He said that presently there are 27 Sierra Leoneans awaiting deportation from the USA. Their processing has to be completed within 30 to 90 days to avoid further sanctions.
AMK/13/9/17
By Alhaji M. Kamara
Thursday September 14, 2017.

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