The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Protocol on Free Movement of Persons states that citizens from all members states moving to other countries could not be referred as foreigners.
Instead of being referred to as foreigners, the revised Protocol described all migrants from any of the 16-member states as Community Citizens with the aim making citizens feel belonged in any member country they migrate into.
Dr Tony Luka Elumelu, the Principal Programme Officer of the Boarder Management and Migration of the ECOWAS Directorate of Free Movement brought this to the attention of Officers of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) saying, “migrants of ECOWAS extractions are not foreigners but community citizens”.
He was speaking at an interactive session with the GIS as part of an advocacy and sensitisation campaign on free movement and migration by ECOWAS and the International Organisation on Migration (IOM).
He urged the security operatives to be abreast with the new Protocol of the ECOWAS Commission and also be friendlier in their operations especially in the communities they operate to serve as a motivation for citizen to help execute their mandate.
Dr Elumelu said it was significant for all security operatives to know that ECOWAS Identity cards were now allowed as travelling document in the Community as adopted by the Commission.
He commended government of Ghana for being the third country out of four countries in the Community to deploy the ECOWAS Identity cards, adding that, so far Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Ghana and Benin were the countries that had deployed the ID cards.
On his part, Mr Laud Afriffa, the Deputy Comptroller General of Command and Operations at the GIS in his presentation commended the ECOWAS Commission and the IOM for pursuing the advocacy and campaign to help key stakeholders to understand the Protocol on Free Movement of persons and goods.
He said it was significant for the stakeholders to understand what was contained in the Protocol and use it in their day-to-day operations, ensuring its full and effective implementation to ease the economic operations within the community.
Mr Afriffa said all the advocacy was based on was the effective management of the boarders especially by the security operatives and how they managed people crossing from one member state to the other without being impediments but serving as checks.
He said boarder management in today’s world had changed as new ways had been adopted with the introduction of Security Governance Initiative by the Government.
This he said was important for the Security Agencies to work together to effectively manage the boarders.
He said it was a major responsibility for the security agencies to strike the balance between ensuring security and ensuring that those who have to move with goods could move without hindrances but move speedily.
The Deputy Comptroller General urged Community Citizens to recognise that free movement did not mean no responsibility saying that free is regulated and therefore those travelling across the boarders must ensure they travel with the appropriate travelling documents as stated in the ECOWAS protocol.
He urged all community citizens to abide by the rules governing every member country they found themselves to ensure that peace and security were not compromised.