The Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) has asked landlords and property owners to demand proof of residence or legal stay of foreign nationals before renting out their properties to them.
The GIS warned that it would begin prosecuting landlords and property owners who rented out their facilities to foreigners without proper immigration documents.
According to the GIS, it was illegal for landlords and property owners to indulge in such practices and that the law would soon catch up on such recalcitrant property owners.
A statement issued by the GIS in Accra and signed by the Comptroller-General, Mr Kwame Asuah Takyi, said the use of such properties by persons who were illegally residing in the country made such owners liable of the offence of harbouring an illegal migrant, as stipulated in Section 52(1)(b) of the Immigration Act, 2000 (Act 573).
“Section 52(1)(b) states that a person who knowingly harbours any person whom he knows is to be deported or has reasonable grounds to believe has acted in contravention of this Act commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding GH¢1,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both,” it added.
According to the statement, properties and residences occupied by illegal foreign migrants were being used in most cases to commit crimes against the state, including cyber fraud.
Following this development, it said the GIS would be conducting checks on the premises of landlords and property owners and, therefore, urged them to fully cooperate with officers of the GIS.
“Notice is further given that it is an offence to disobey or disregard any obligation or directive given under the Immigration Act,” it emphasised.
“Allow officers to do their work”
Obstruction or prevention of an officer of the GIS from carrying out his lawful duty of checking a premises was an offence under the Immigration Act, it added.
“Upon the submission of a Service Identity Card, the general public is, therefore, requested to cooperate with all Immigration Officers who visit their premises to conduct checks. Severe sanctions will be applied to all who breach the law by obstructing the Immigration Officer(s) from performing his/her lawful duty(ies),” the statement explained.
Throwing light on the development, the Head of Public Affairs Directorate of the GIS, Superintendent Michael Amoako-Attah, told the Daily Graphic reporter, Salomey Appiah-Adjei, that the GIS had always visited various premises suspected to house foreign nationals to conduct checks on their documents in line with the law.
He said the practice of harbouring illegal immigrants led to the increase in crime as their activities could not be traced or monitored.
“We have been working with the law but it looks like whenever we go out to enforce the regulations, most landlords are not aware of the fact that they are supposed to check for resident permits when foreign nationals come to rent their premises”, he explained.
Superintendent Amoako-Attah further advised landlords and property owners to demand passports of foreign nationals and check for a GIS sticker which is an indication of a permit.