Agnes Igoye, the deputy coordinator anti-human trafficking department under the ministry of internal affairs, has warned Ugandans not to waste time presenting MRP which is now regarded as an outlawed document for Visa application or attempt to use it to cross into any country.

The Machine Readable Passport (MRP) is no longer acceptable as a lawful travel document with effect from today, according to the Directorate of Citizenship and immigration Control (DCIC). For the last two years, DCIC under the Ministry of Internal Affairs, has been announcing April 4 2022 as the deadline for use of MRP as a legal travel document.

Agnes Igoye, the deputy coordinator anti-human trafficking department under the Ministry of Internal Affairs, has warned Ugandans not to waste time presenting MRP which is now regarded as an outlawed document for Visa application or attempt to use it to cross into any country.

But Igoye and Timothy Atwine, the deputy public relations officers for the ministry of internal affairs, have urged Ugandans not to panic because today is not the last day when the electronic Machine Readable Travel Document (e-MRTD) will be issued.

The duo says there have been groups with the intent of defrauding Ugandans spreading falsehoods that today is the final day for issuance of e-MRTDs yet it is not true. Igoye and Atwine say passports will always be issued to eligible Ugandans. The public reminded that their MRPs are now unacceptable anywhere in the world as a travel document and now should apply to acquire the e-MRTD.

Igoye asked Ugandans especially domestic workers in the Arab world not to worry because they will be helped to return home despite the expiration of their passports. The internal affairs officials say there are groups that would attempt to put domestic workers abroad at ransom with threats that they cannot travel back because their passports have expired.

“I know today is the deadline for this passport,” Igoye said. “I also know that traffickers are going to use this as an excuse to control workers. I want to tell you that if you are abroad and your passport has been removed from you, just alert us and we will help you to come back,” Igoye said.

The National Governance, Peace and Security (NGPS) survey conducted in 2017 indicated that only 2% of Ugandans have a passport. At the time Uganda was estimated to be having over 39 million people but the latest figures put Uganda’s population at more than 42 million people. The of passport holders must have grown massively owing to the exodus of young Ugandans as migrant workers.

However, Atwine, Igoye and Simon Mundeyi the spokesperson of the ministry of internal affairs, have not been able to reveal the exact number of Ugandans now having passports and how many have successfully acquired the e-passport.  

DCIC has opened passport access centers in cities like Pretoria, Beijing, London, Ottawa, Washington and Amsterdam purposely to cater for Ugandans living or working in such countries. Atwine explains that the passports will continue to be printed in Uganda and delivered to those access centres.

The expired MRP bear traditional text, information like a photo and the ghost image but lacks biometric features that can identify the passport with the genuine owner, a gap the e-passport has closed. 

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) some years ago issued a list of what an e-MRP must have among others special biometric features, which specifically identify the passport with the owner thus enhancing the security of travel. For Ugandans, finger print is a key feature. 

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