Middle-East bound Ugandans put pressure on Interpol office

Middle-East bound Ugandans put pressure on Interpol office
Interpol’s Birungi says they now work even on weekends.

Kampala, Uganda | URN | At least 300 or more people are seeking a certificate of good conduct daily from the National Central Bureau (NCB) commonly known as Interpol – Uganda.

Charles Birungi, the acting Director Interpol, says that on average they attend to 300 people mostly female seeking to be cleared to go for employment in the Middle East.

Birungi adds that due to the overwhelming numbers, they have been working even on Saturdays since October last year. He adds that they have also adjusted opening and closing hours from 7am to 6pm. Previously, the offices would open at 8am and close at 5pm.

The 300 people being attended to every day translate to 1,800 every week and 7,200 certificates of good conduct being issued out every month. Birungi explains that their records indicate most of the people seeking Interpol clearance show the Middle East as their final destination.

A Certificate of good conduct, according to Birungi, is increasingly being demanded by not only embassies but also international universities and organizations.

“We have people who come here to get cleared even though they are not going abroad. Some international organisation operating here require one to have a certificate of good conduct before he or she is given a job,” Birungi said.

To get a certificate of good conduct, a person must have a National ID for the case of Ugandans or a Passport for foreigners and must attach a bank slip showing payment of 76,000 shillings.

This year is likely to have the highest number of certificates of good conduct issued out. In 2019, Interpol issued out 59,356 certificates of Good Conduct amounting to 2.9 Billion shillings.

But if the numbers keep surging, Interpol will have issued 86,400 or more certificates by December 31, 2021.

Birungi says the process takes five to seven days purposely to ensure the person does not have criminal records both locally and internationally. The big numbers flocking Interpol seeking to be cleared are attributed to the seven months when countries had put travel bans in a bid to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Most countries implemented travel restrictions as advised by World Health Organization (WHO) to curtail COVID-19 spread. Uganda went to lockdown in March and relaxed the restriction in phases. However, the Airport was opened in October.

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“We sometimes get emergencies and we have to clear a person in one day. We have people who need treatment abroad and we also have those who have been admitted to international universities and a certificate of good conduct is needed at the last minutes. We also have scenarios where people go for job interviews without knowing that a certificate of good conduct would be needed. Someone comes and explains with evidence and you can’t let him lose the job,” Birungi said.

On allegations of applicants being asked to pay money to get their certificates in time, Birungi admits that such allegations have been there even before he came to steer Interpol. He, however, says no person has officially complained so that they can take action against police officers demanding and receiving bribes.