In a bid to systematically institutionalize the required reforms instead of taking haphazard actions that only tend to generate sensation, the Government of Liberia (GOL) through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has crafted and is effectuating a set of revised regulations governing the administration and issuance of Liberian passports.
Addressing the December 6, 2012 edition of the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) weekly press briefing, Foreign Affairs Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan stated that the new regulations are in line with the Ministry's statutory responsibility to facilitate the fundamental rights of freedom for all Liberian citizens.
Minister Ngafuan averred that the regulations are also in keeping with chapter 20.3 (f) of Liberia's Executive Law and also an attempt to clarify the confusion that exists among the public about who is eligible for the acquisition of a Liberian passport in various categories.
On the issue of the ECOWAS passport being issue Liberians, the Foreign Minister told journalists yesterday, "Because the present family of ECOWAS passports in circulation does not include service passports, all those that would have ordinarily been issued service passport will be issued official passports until this problem is resolved."
He noted, with the exception of ordinary passports that will be issued for a period of five years, all other categories of passports will be issued for a two year period.
Minister Ngafuan continued, "Laissez Passer shall be issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Liberia's embassies and consulates across the World on a case basis for emergency travels. It shall be issue to Liberians and foreigners who were born in Liberia and desire to travel to their countries of nationality for the purpose of obtaining proper travel documents. Laissez Passer shall have duration as indicated in the instrument, but shall not have validity beyond 90 days."
The revised regulation on the issuance of Liberian passports provide for four categories including, ordinary, service, official and diplomatic.
In compliance with the Liberian constitution and the alien and nationality law, ordinary passports will be issued to natural born or naturalized Liberians under these new regulations.
The revised passport law provides for the issuance of diplomatic and official passports to certain categories of individuals, owing to their privileged nature.
According to the revised regulations, request for official, service and diplomatic passports for individuals that are in government will emanate from the head of the institution.
Additionally, payment for the three categories of passports shall be made by the institution of government applying for such passport on behalf of an employee or government official.
The regulation warns that MFA will not accept any application and payment for these categories of passports directly from employees or officials of government.
Heads of government institutions are advised to put in place necessary controls at their respective institutions to ensure that diplomatic and official passports issued are strictly on travels and official nature.
A fee of US$23.00 has been prescribed for any category of passport obtained at MFA in Monrovia, while US$200.00 or its equivalent is being charged for passports issued outside Liberia, as Laissez Passer will coast US$10.00.
All categories of passports are none-renewable; at the expiry of the stated period, a new one must be obtained.