Give Me Back My Passport, It Is My Right! (An exposition on the law concerning passport seizures in Ghana)
By Joseph Konadu
The Foreign Enlistment Act, 1961 interprets a passport as including “every form of travel document issued on behalf of the Republic”. According to the Immigration Act, 2000 (ACT 573) a “passport means a valid travel document issued to the person producing it by or on behalf of the country of which he is a subject or a citizen for a period which, according to the laws of that country, has not expired and which refers to the person, and is furnished with a photograph of him”(both laws Acts are of Ghana).
Recently there has been seizure of passports of citizens of this country especially those of former government officials. Among which is the Osei- adjei affair: which involves the former foreign minister taking the Attorney- General and Bureau of National Investigation to court for the seizure of his passport which he contends is illegal. An Accra Fast Track High Court which is hearing the case will make its final ruling on August 11, 2009. Passport seizures is not restricted to Ghana, it is a common occurrence across a lot of countries in the world and even in Ghana it is not restricted to this current Government Court cases that such seizures usually are of variant results, sometimes with the state being held to be have acted lawfully in seizing the passport of a citizen and sometimes with the individual winning.
In this piece, it is submitted that the right to own a passport, especially for the purposes of travelling outside Ghana is a fundamental right of every Ghanaian which cannot be curtailed unless by lawful exceptions to the freedom to movement and liberty as well as the right to property. Exceptions which I humbly submit is only permissible if it is in accordance with the 1992 constitution of Ghana.