In an effort to strengthen Sierra Leone’s Immigration systems in line with His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio’s agenda, the Chief Immigration Officer of Sierra Leone, Hon. Alusine Kanneh has today 19th December 2023, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Belgium Immigration Office in Brussels.
The MOU primarily seeks to open room for collaboration on border activities between the two institutions, focusing on strategic immigration issues such as border control, security intelligence exchange programmes, technical cooperation and exchange of information.
The Chief Immigration Officer, Hon. Kanneh said the relationship between the two institutions, which has been developed over the years, allows them to work concertedly to further strengthen border security and boost bilateral cooperation.
He further disclosed that the signed MOU covers a broad range of benefits for Sierra Leone, especially for migration purposes. Revealing the ordeal of seeking asylum in Belgium, he stated that before the signing of the MOU, hardly ever had Sierra Leoneans sought asylum in Belgium compared to other African nationals, citing a report from the Belgium Immigration Office that only one Sierra Leonean requested for asylum in Belgium a year.
During the signing ceremony, Hon. Kanneh stressed the necessity of issuing Schenge visa in Sierra Leone, which the relevant authorities of the Belgium Immigration Office have given an indication of their willingness to hold discussions on its implementation.
The former Lawmaker further requested for capacity building programmes from his Belgium counterpart as training on border control and immigration issues are pertinent to national security.
“Our visit will help strengthen institutions like the Immigration to ensure that the right thing is done. Immigration is the gateway to any country. This is also a learning process and we are learning about their policies, systems and procedures of which we hope to adopt and implement to ensure best practices,” Hon. Kanneh ended.
The Director-General of the Belgium Migration Office, Frederick Rosemont, thanked the CIO for taking his time to visit Brussels and sign the MOU on behalf of the government, adding “all the concerns raised during this engagement have been taken into consideration, especially the provision of short term capacity building programmes for Sierra Leone’s immigration officers starting next year”.
While emphasising the importance of border control and information sharing, he also mentioned that Sierra Leone is a reliable partner; therefore, they are working hard to see how they can address visa processes between the two countries.
In could be recalled that the CIO and team, including Mr Allieu Bakarr Conteh, Director of Admin and Finance, Mr James Cooper- Assistant Border Management and Mrs Patricia Kargobai, Senior Immigration Officer, arrived in Brussels yesterday, 18th December 2023, on the invitation of the Belgium Immigration Services. The team visited different holding centres in Brussels and the Belgium Printrak (system fingerprint)
Prior to the signing ceremony, presentations were done by senior staff of the Services, focusing on multidisciplinary approach to combating human trafficking and Border Management.
Sierra Leone Embassy