Ruling party obstruction to passport services deplorable

Ruling party obstruction to passport services deplorable

New Age  Apr 05,2018

 IT IS disparaging that member of the ruling party affiliate organisations are interfering with regular activities of different offices of the government. Recently, field-level officials of the Department of Immigration and Passports have expressed concern, as New Age reported on Wednesday, about their security as they are often threatened by middlemen backed by ruling party activists. Their concern is heightened when a DIP official of Bogra was attacked allegedly by a group ruling Awami League activists for not allowing brokers to manage passports. On March 29, Juba League activists tried to hack him and left him critically injured on the road. Earlier in March 2017, another DIP official was beaten inside his office in the presence of the Narail municipal mayor as the district passport officer refused to hand over two passports to a boy without authorisation from his parents. In Cox’s Bazar, the local administration allowed several organisations to prepare documents and formalities for the applicants. DIP officials have found a nexus of local politicians, trader union leaders, middlemen and a few government employees involved with these organisations and over 250 applications with forged documents were confiscated. According to a number of DIP officials, they become target of violence when they take action against these politically-backed middlemen. It is absolutely unacceptable that the ruling party members are obstructing the judicious execution of government activities of a department concerned with national security.

However, corruption in immigration and passport offices are quite pervasive. In 2017, anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International, Bangladesh found in a survey that 76 per cent new applicants were victims of corruption during police verification. The survey report said, 76.2 per cent service seekers were victims of corruption and irregularities during police investigation and 75.3 per cent applicants spent Tk 797 in bribe to get a passport. During the verification process, the police have threatened applicants with arrests for no reasons, were negligent in accepting general diary or first information report and delayed issuing police verification certificates. The aspiring migrant workers are often the worst victims of such corruption. Time and again, the DIP office has been identified as the most corrupt sectors in the country by different anti-corruption civil society groups. The government’s response in this regard is inadequate. After the release of the TIB report in 2017, authorities have insisted that they have no knowledge of irregularities and they will act only if the allegations are proved true. The home minister action, after the recent attack on DIP officials, was limited to a formal visit to the injured official. Instead of denying the reality, the government should take strict measures to prevent corruption with a particular emphasis on controlling the misconduct of the law enforcement agencies.

Reckoning with the fact that by obstructing the judicious execution of passport and immigration services, the Awami League is risking the moral ground to govern the nation. It must immediately put an end to this political tendency of interfering with government activities and ensure a safe environment for DIP officials to do their job freely.

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