Guinea-Bissau cracks down on illicit diplomatic passports

2015-02-11 11:44

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Bissau - Guinea-Bissau has announced a crackdown on the trafficking of diplomatic and government passports after 1 600 of the precious documents were discovered in use by people with no right to them.

"There is a proliferation of diplomatic or service passports in the hands of people who have no connection with our diplomacy -- more than 1 600. It's incredible!" Foreign minister Mario Lopes Da Rosa told a news conference late on Monday.

Da Rosa did not say how officials had made their discovery, but noted the ministry had set up a monitoring system "that will allow us to determine the exact number of issued documents, to whom they were delivered and in what circumstances".

Diplomatic passports are usually tightly restricted to accredited diplomats, while service passports are reserved for government employees and their dependents for work-related travel.

Lopes Da Rosa indicated regulations on special passports will be applied with greater oversight, and intervention.

"There is a law on the granting of passports. People who do not qualify will see their papers withdrawn, pure and simple," the minister said.

Several hundred diplomatic passports disappeared during the country's 2012-14 political transition, and were later found in the hands of Chinese, Hungarian and other foreigners, a foreign ministry source said.

"It's effectively a well-organised mafia. A diplomatic passport was selling for up to $50 000," the source added.

Read more on:    guinea bissau  |  west africa

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