Sierra Leone’s Entry Visa waiver – What it means for national security

Abayomi Tejan: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 September 2019:

The government of Sierra Leone has waived the requirement for a prospective visitor to the country to first apply for an Entry Visa before travelling. The government’s press release states that it’s a strategy aimed at encouraging more foreigners to visit Sierra Leone without much trouble.

The waiving of Entry Visa into Sierra Leone by the government is meant to facilitate easy travelling for foreign investors wishing to do business in the country.

Tourism, too, would increase – the government is hoping, which translates into more foreign exchange earnings.

On the face of it, it’s all good for business and economic growth. But what about national security?

Sierra Leone’s traditional western partners, the US, UK, EU countries, in addition to Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa made the favoured list, in addition to Japan, South Korea and Norway.

However, opening up the country to so many foreigners who could just simply hop into a plane and fly to Freetown, without prior notice to the immigration department, could pose security risks.

Countries like Iran, Thailand, Turkey, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, UAE, and Saudi Arabia are homes to elements who, in one way or another, have links with Islamic militants such as ISIS, Al Shabab and Book Haram.

Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia are well known for narcotics and drug trafficking.

Sierra Leone may be one of the most peaceful countries in West Africa, but the peace is rather fragile. The country is also vulnerable to infiltration by individuals on a mission.

The national borders by sea and land are porous, located along a stretch of water considered the most dangerous in the world. It has been used before as a transit point for cocaine traffickers.

America has accused certain Lebanese nationals in Sierra Leone of supporting Hezbollah, a Muslim sect believed to be involved in terrorism.

A few years back, Al Shabab threatened Sierra Leone for sending peace keeping troops to Somalia. Boko Haram, perhaps the most dangerous of the militants, is giving the Nigerian army a hard time.

Boko Haram is enemy of anyone with western orientation, not just Americans or Europeans. Sierra Leoneans are therefore enemies to Boko Haram.

With the west Atlantic coast teeming with pirates associated to Islamist groups, Sierra Leone had better step up on intelligence gathering to pre-empt any covertly planned breach of its national security by militants posing as investors and tourists.

No matter the technology or sophistication of the airport security system, who is going to argue with a visitor from some Asian country or the Middle East claiming to be a tourist? Much least with one who declares a wad of hard currency stashed in a briefcase, posing as a prospective investor. Either way, the visitor most likely than not would be warmly welcomed in Sierra Leone.

So, while Sierra Leone opens its doors to more foreigners and total strangers, the security agencies had better tighten their belts for any eventuality.

3 Comments

  1. Has anytbing been done against organized crime gangs working with officials to scam forigners who are there to invest? Is any protection given to foreigners who come to the country to invest? You really dont have to worry about Islamists or other external threats as long you have much worse inside the country, living in luxury from cash stolen from foreigners.

  2. So far the visa price stayed the same. The flight prices have gone up. Yet still even after the announcement in February, taxes on flights are still there. Gambia’s model works – no fees, no visa and thousands of happy tourists. If you don’t play on an even playing feild you cannot win.

    Get the white man’s dollar – he has plenty to spend and develop like they did for the Gambia. Cheap flights, easy flights and no hassle on visa and also reasonably priced quality accommodation – that is all we ask of your beautiful peole and the landscape will do the rest.

  3. Open Borders? I knew it! I knew that day was not far away,when the systematic dismantling,and compromising of our national security will begin. And Its happening now right before our eyes. A thousands times,I have insisted,and will say it again – This government is not fit to rule! Who’s going to invest in a disorderly society like our own,with no credible judicial,and financial structures,and institutions,that will energize,and inspire investor confidence?

    Only Criminals on the run, looking for easy channels,and outlets to wash,and launder their filthy monies,of course. Here they go again,putting the cart in front of the horse. Prudence,says,create an attractive,amicable atmosphere first,and the rest will fall in their rightful places. Sadly,those wise words have fallen on deaf ears! Now,everybody knows Sierra Leone is up for grabs,and for sale,to anyone with a stash of tainted,or untainted cash. Its easy to see. This unthinking government is full of disingenuous people,who have erroneously concluded,that money should,and must become of the highest priority to our nation,far above our National security.

    This is madness,of course! Another hasty decision,that was poorly conceived,without being carefully deliberated,examined,and scrutinized. An Open border – an entry visa waiver is considered by Terrorists,and drug traffickers as their Gateway to riches,without having the usual headaches,unnecessary scrutiny,and security challenges and hindrances. A nation strapped for cash,lacking in ingenuity,looking for quick fixes,and easy money is what we have become under the watch of the incompetent SLPP. Sad!

    Open borders facilitate diverse crimes – prostitution,child trafficking, paedophilia, money laundering, slavery,illicit drug peddling – the list is endless,and the troubles,and challenges to be encountered are frightening,and uncountable. What an unfixable mess they are creating,all over the place – poorly conceived programmes,projects,and policies,scattered,here and there like bad seeds that refuse to grow, even when watered over and over again….Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

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