Justifying his statement, Jawara reads the caution written on The Gambian passport, which reads: “this passport remains the property of the government of the Republic of The Gambia and may be withdrawn at any time. “It is a valuable document and should not be altered in any way or allowed to pass into the possession of an authorized person.”
Mr. Jawara was speaking on Sunday 13th February, 2010 at the Brikama Red Cross office in West Coast Region at a forum organized by the Youth Ambassadors of Peace West Coast Region Zone.
In his own interpretations, the Gambian passport belong to the government of The Gambia and can be withdrawn from any person who is found wanting revealing that Gambian passport is accepted worldwide, while calling on holders of the passport to be ambassadors of the country wherever they are in the world.
Jawara says, “Once a person is given the passport, he or she is representing the Gambian people as the document belongs to The Gambia adding that holders of the document should promote the good image of the country.”
Spokesperson of Immigration remarked that at the age of eighteen (18) one is eligible to be given a Gambian passport but was quick to say that the person must submit a national document(s) to prove that he or she is a Gambian.
The following documents, he said are the documents that one needs to submit when applying for a Gambian passport – Identification Card, Birth Certificate, and Parent Supporting Document (PSD). He went on to explain that in the Gambian constitution, it makes provision of only document but his department is requesting more than one noting that for the purpose of security reasons, they normally asked for two or more documents.
He then advised the youths to acquire Gambian document at the age of 18 noting that is very important for one to have national documents principally the Gambian passport as they are dreaming for roving everyday.
Mr. Jawara urged the youths to be cooperative with Immigration officer when ever they are executing their duties that asking for documents in the streets.
Jawara also told the youths to go by the guidelines of Immigration officers they meet up with them at the border points, airport, or land, saying that Immigration officers at the said points are their only to facilitate movement.
He disclosed that at any entry point, one use to enter the country, the document he or she produce to the Immigration officers at the time of his entry, he or she will be treated according to the document the person has shown.
Given an example, Jawara said immigrants that tenders ECOWAS passports, will be treated like ECOWAS citizens like wise other documents. The visa fees for foreigners that are not ECOWAS member states, their visa fees has been increased from D300 to D1000 with effect from January 1st, 2011, according to the Immigration’s PRO.
For the emergency certificate, he said before it was given free-of-charge but now the present government has levied a fine .i.e. D250.
He also advised youths to desist from holding two valid passports, identification cards, or other national document saying that “if one is caught, he or she will be punished according to the laws of the land, because it is a crime for one to hold two valid documents that are the same.”
He told youths: “you don’t need to panic when you have expired passport that have valid visa, because the passport can be change and the visa will still be valid, the only thing you need to do is to submit your expired passport at the Immigration department by putting it on top of the other relevant documents” he assured the gathering.
On how one can become a Gambia citizen and the documents required, PRO Jawara remarked that it is stipulated in the 1997 Gambian constitution.
He explained that nationality or citizenship status can be acquired through birth, marriage, descent, and naturalization. However, the Gambian constitution, 1997 has also made provision for dual citizenship.
PRO Jawara lectured, for citizenship by Birth, he said to acquire this status, and one has to be born in The Gambia with one or both parents being Gambians.
Citizenship by Descent, this is when one is born outside The Gambia with one or both parents being Gambians. Citizenship by Registration (Marriage); this is acquired when one is marriage to a Gambian and resides in the Gambia for not less than seven years. Citizenship through Naturalisation; this is the acquisition of Gambian citizenship by non Gambians after surrendering or denouncing their original citizenship. This, he pointed out has to happen after the person has continuously live in the country for 15 years. Dual citizenship; this he said can be defined as a status when Gambians by birth or descent are allowed to hold citizenship of another country. Buttressing further on citizenship, PRO Jawara maintained that one must be paying his or her residential permit, be a good charter, and the environment he or she lives must attest to the facts that the person have good charter.
Immigration PRO holds the believe that “if a stubborn person is given citizenship, he or she can cause chaos within the community or in the country, which he said will not be accepted in The Gambia as the country is known as ‘smiling coast of Africa.’
He finally commended Youth Ambassadors of Peace for organizing such a forum, and advised the organization to keep the sprit of team work.