MPs demand diplomatic passports

MPs demand diplomatic passports
A view of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (Photo by Reuters)

Members of the reconstituted transitional national assembly (TNLA) are demanding that all lawmakers in the country be handed diplomatic passports and assigned diplomatic status.

This comes after MPs reported being harassed when travelling to other countries using special passports, even for regional and international gatherings, triggering their pursuit of a solution.

The motion’s mover, David Mayo, termed the request a necessity, pointing out that unlike undersecretaries and military officers, MPs travel outside the country for specific missions.

“When we go to foreign countries, they do not recognise the special passport and sometimes you are not treated as a diplomat when you have a special passport,’’ he said.

The motion was seconded by majority members of parliament, who argued that if their wishes were granted, their duties would be simplified.

Responding to the demand, the R-TNLA’s first deputy speaker, Nathaniel Oyet, acknowledged that some countries do not accept special passports held by members of parliament on the grounds that some of the MPs had been treated in an undignified manner when he accompanied them to the UN meeting in Geneva last month.

Call grows

 “When I was travelling for the UN summit, two of the members got affected because they were holding special passports.”

He stated that they were going to transit through Amsterdam, but they were not allowed. Oyet said he was the only one allowed to clear and check in, but the two MPs who did not have diplomatic passports were rejected.

We had to buy tickets again even though we were already in the middle of our journey, and the team had to split up so that some people travelled via Amsterdam and the rest via Europe.

Mr Oyet asked lawmakers to research and employ the applicable legal instruments that grant them immunity and privileges to carry out the motion.

Victor Omgo said the house issued a resolution three years ago granting MPs diplomatic passports when it enacted the 2019-2020 budget, which can be utilised as a legal basis by the current parliament.

 “But because of our executive being lords over us, they put it under the carpet, and when some of our MPs went there to say they wanted diplomatic passports, they said they had not been officially informed by the ministry concerned,” said Omgo.

He said that the rules governing the use of passports and other documents never got through parliament and that the immigration office is using them to grant passports to MPs.

 “Even in the law, there are three passports, but in that regulation, there are five passports, which is contrary to the law. A subsidiary law must agree with the law, ” he stressed.

He said that he was once one of the MPs who were arrested by security in Egypt while travelling to an international conference.

 “So they are using the regulation instead of the law to give us this humiliating experience. I experienced the same situation. We were detained in Egypt when we went for the AYILO conference in Geneva with the special passport.”

When they inquired why they were being held, he stated that they were told that the Muslim Brotherhood are the ones who use special passports.

“The previous minister of foreign affairs, well, he was in Egypt, Barnaba Marial, and the nice thing about Egypt is that the system works so quickly that these individuals came and got us out of prison,” he recalled.