Passport Fraud Creates Obstacles for Ugandan Travelers in East Asia

Uganda passport fraud causes nightmares in East Asia
PHOTO - Watchdog - While Ugandan officials assert the passport's integrity, challenges persist, and vigilance is required to combat passport fraud globally.
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Many people have faced strict checks or entry denials when traveling to China, India, Singapore, and other East Asian countries due to a rise in fake Ugandan passports.

A Ugandan children’s choir, touring Southeast Asian countries, experienced this firsthand when they were denied entry to Singapore without explanation last November.

Around the world, immigration officials hold the power to allow entry into foreign lands, with or without a visa.

The choir was traveling from Malaysia to Singapore, and suspicions arose about political tensions or their unconventional route through the Johor straits.

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Singapore, a top Asian destination, attracts millions of visitors annually, but it maintains strict immigration laws.

Reports emerged of increased scrutiny on Ugandan passport holders by Singaporean immigration. Uganda and Singapore have visa reciprocity, but Singaporean authorities had concerns.

Ugandan diplomats in New Delhi had been engaged with Singaporean authorities after a West African national entered Singapore with a Ugandan passport and then vanished.

This incident led to increased scrutiny, questioning, and occasional denials for Ugandans with ordinary passports.

Ugandans living in Malaysia and Singapore shared their experiences of heightened scrutiny, speculating that West Africans misusing Ugandan passports may be the root of the problem.

Singapore is known for its strict laws, including those applying to foreigners, to maintain social order.

Ugandan passports should only be held by Ugandan citizens, and they are processed in Kampala and a few foreign missions.

Immigration officials in Kampala downplayed concerns about foreigners acquiring passports fraudulently. They explained that the new passport process includes biometric data and fingerprint verification.

However, despite these measures, the Ugandan passport remains a focus in Southeast Asia, according to diplomatic sources and firsthand accounts.

Travelers with Ugandan passports, whether genuine or fake, often face intense scrutiny, raising concerns about profiling.

Instances of Ugandans selling passports to Nigerians were noted, and in the past, sweep operations in China revealed many non-Ugandans with Ugandan passports.

Such passport misuse has ties to drug trafficking and prostitution networks in East Asia.

In India, immigration officials have increased scrutiny of Ugandan passport holders, suspecting them of involvement in drug trafficking. Ugandans are sometimes used as mules, unknowingly transporting drugs.

These issues tarnish the reputation of the Ugandan passport, impacting genuine travelers.

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