The Defense and Internal Affairs Committee has directed the Public Service Commission and the Minister of Internal Affairs to make provision for recruitment of pregnant women and Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) into Immigration Directorate.
The Committee made the directive while meeting the Chairperson of the Public Service Commission Justice Ralph Ochan on Thursday, 30th July 2015.
He was accompanied by the Minister of Internal Affairs, Hon. Gen. Aronda Nyakairima.
The meeting follows reports that pregnant women and PWDs would not be considered in the ongoing recruitment process as they were not able to take part in the physical exercises recently.
Oyam South Member of Parliament, Hon. Betty Amongi wondered whether the Public Service Commission was recruiting public servants or members of the armed forces.
She noted that the recruitment process was breaching the human rights of having a family and non-discrimination against PWDs.
“The act of side-lining pregnant women and PWDs during the recruitment process is an indirect way of saying that they cannot get a job because they are expecting a child or because they are physically challenged,” Hon. Amongi said.
She also added that immigration officers should not have powers to arrest or even carry firearms.
“It is clear in the Constitution that these immigration officers are public servants and not members of the armed forces. If there is any work to be done requiring armed personnel, then they should use the Police,” Hon. Amongi stressed.
Gen. Aronda Nyakairima clarified that it was necessary for the immigration officers deployed at border points to be armed citing the need for increased security within the region.
“We need to have armed and trained officers because we have threats of terrorists coming in through the borders,” he said.
Hon. Nyakairima added that it was unreasonable for the government to have immigration personnel with no security background. He insisted that immigration officers should have the powers to arrest offenders.
“When you go through the airports of developed countries, you will find armed immigration officers,” Hon. Nyakairima argued.
Justice Ralph Ochan said the Commission had created a help desk to attend to the pregnant women and PWDs who had passed the first aptitude test but were not able to participate in the physical test.
“We have received 71 people who have come to register with us and we are preparing an alternative test that will address their special situation,” Justice Ochan noted.
Hon. Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga County) supported the Public Service Commission’s move but appealed to the Ministry to address the problem of staff numbers in the Directorate.
“We have a ratio of one immigration officer to 44,000 people and I think that is straining the officers and affecting efficiency,” Hon. Ssekikubo said.
The Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah directed the Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs to further investigate the issues surrounding rthe recent exercise of recruitment of immigration officers.
Parliament recently passed a directive suspending the recruitment process following allegations of nepotism, corruption and discrimination against pregnant women and PWDs.