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10.05.2008 Editorial

Our Porous Borders

By Daily Guide
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That Ghana is a hospitable country is an indisputable appellation. Perhaps no country on the African continent can rival her openness as regards reception of visitors.

Some have attributed this hospitality to the various cultures in the country all of which are receptive of foreigners.

From Accra on the coast to the fringes of the northern regions where the land mass joins Burkina Faso's, the people will always open their doors to foreigners.

No wonder under his regime especially in the early days of our attainment of independence, the country's first President turned Ghana into what has gone down in history books as the Mecca for liberation fighters from other African countries.

Our country is today a microcosm of Africa, encompassing people from all parts of the continent. Indeed even in some parts of the country intermarriages have taken place between indigenous people and foreigners.

The fusion of cultures has contributed to the uniqueness of Ghana when she stands among her African neighbours.

We do not have any quarrel with this natural historical development.

We are however worried about the flouting of our immigration laws. It is our strong belief that even if a country decides to be receptive of others, her immigration laws must be enforced.

The picture of our country today is that of a system which allows just anybody to enter it and pitch camp with no immigration officer raising an eyebrow.

This subject has been prompted by the seeming unprecedented arrival of beggars from neighbouring countries into Ghana.

Accra and other parts of the country are hosts to foreigners whose entry raises questions about how efficient our immigration system is.
It cannot be imagined how foreigners without valid travel documents can enter other countries.

In Ghana, it is a different story because it appears that foreigners are able to find their way here with little ease or none at all.

We do not know how they do it. Much as we do not want to query our immigration officers, we can say without apprehension that there is something wrong somewhere which is making it less difficult for foreigners to come and easily settle if they so desire.

The national security implication of allowing just anybody who wants to enter Ghana to do so cannot be over-emphasised.

The so-called “sakawa” or internet fraud which many youth are now engaged in the poverty-stricken parts of Accra was introduced into the country by foreigners from neighbouring countries.

There have been instances of foreigners nabbed over criminal activities and when they were asked to produce their travel documents, they had none to show; another drawback of porous borders.

We are part of ECOWAS whose treaties on the free movement of nationals of member countries among others are not in contention.

The treaties, we also know, have provisos. It is the enforcement of these provisos which would protect host countries from criminals who can exploit the protocols to create security problems for the host countries.

We urge the Ministry of the Interior to take another look, alongside the Immigration Service, at the manner in which people come in from especially neighbouring countries to beg and engage in activities inimical to national security.

Allowing our hospitality and ECOWAS protocols to injure our national security and create eyesores by begging in street corners is not a sensible thing to do.

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