(MENAFN- The Post) MASERU – THE government this week deported four Sri Lankans and temporarily suspended the issuing of Lesotho citizenship as it cracks down on a syndicate selling the country's documents.
Home Affairs Minister Motlalentoa Letsosa told a press conference this week that the Sri Lankans were nabbed at the Moshoeshoe I International Airport as they were entering the Kingdom last Thursday.
The four, three women and a man, were sent back to Sri Lanka the next day. They had fake papers.
“The problem with them was that they were holding forged invitation letters, our ministry never dispatched such letters,” Letsosa said.
He said some foreigners were using Lesotho as a stepping stone to get to other countries.
“We unearthed that the foreigners were invited by a factory located somewhere in the country.”
Sri Lankans do not need a visa to enter Lesotho since they are members of the Commonwealth.
They were deported to their country at their own cost.
Letsosa said most foreigners with fake documents were involved in human trafficking.
In June, a Sri Lankan disappeared at the Moshoeshoe I International Airport as the police stepped up their crackdown on cases of human trafficking.
Two others were also arrested after they arrived on the same plane and were deported the following day.
The ministry said it suspected the three could be linked to a network of human traffickers.
Letsosa said since last year they have been fighting the trafficking of persons. He said the government was moving to tighten the issuance of documents to foreigners.
“We have looked at how neighbouring countries combat the same issues that are bothering us,” he said.
He said Lesotho had been lax in the way it issued residence papers which allowed criminals to exploit the loopholes.
Letsosa said the government was temporarily suspending the issuance of Lesotho citizenship to foreigners starting next Monday.
“We are taking all these measures to discourage foreigners from coming,” he said.
“We will get back to the nation in three months to report on our new findings.”
He said they will compile records of all the foreigners who were given citizenship to find out if they are still in the country.
He said they have devised new ways to combat human trafficking, money laundering and other crimes.
“We have analysed how our citizenship goes as some people apply for it and leave this country.”
He also said they had also realised that some foreigners use Lesotho citizenship to even commit some crimes abroad and risk Lesotho's good relations with other countries.
Some enter the country under the pretext that they are visiting their relatives who work here“but after a while, they present business licences that we do not even know how they get them”.
He said from Monday onwards the visitor's permits will never be extended after 14 days for those with special reasons to enter the country.
He also said they will expect the arriving foreigners to possess a letter of invitation into the country, the invitee's trader's licence, the invitee's passport, residence permit, letter of employer and work permit.
They will also need a bank statement of the person who invites foreigners to Lesotho and a return ticket for everyone in case they are not granted permits.
“They must be able to return to their countries at their (own) cost,” he said.
He said they had negotiated with South African Airlink not to fly any foreigner without a return ticket.
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