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A newly amended bill tabled before lawmakers proposes to grant the Immigration and Citizenship Service a set of new powers over foreign nationals residing in or visiting Ethiopia.

This power has been given only for courts, before.

If ratified, the bill would enable the Service and its personnel to conduct unannounced ‘emergency’ field visits and inspections on foreign individuals in the country during government working days and hours. The Reporter requested further clarification on the proposed emergency control mechanisms from the Service’s Director-General but she declined to clarify further.

The bill also proposes to grant the Director-General the right to bar an individual from leaving the country based on information obtained from security services, law enforcement organs, or tips forwarded to the Service itself. This provision pertains to national interest and security, according to the draft, which stipulates that an individual denied travel for these reasons will be brought before a court of law.

The revised law also states that to enter the country, a foreign national holding a visa for tourism, transit, short-term meetings, workshops, media work, religious purposes, or sports must also hold a return ticket, a health certificate, and a visa. The draft fails to specify what kind of health certificate foreign nationals are obliged to hold.

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It also states that any carrier must provide a passenger manifest and relevant information to the Service three hours before departure to an overseas destination or arrival. The Service is mandated to review the passenger information and records, according to the draft.

The draft also authorizes the Service to grant or revoke Ethiopian citizenship to non-natives as well as prepare, publish, distribute, and handle forms necessary for employment, including certificates, residency permits, travel documents, visas, and registers of civil status.

Lawmakers have lambasted the Service for its inefficiency, bias, and outdated service provision, taking into account reports of inequitable treatment and unprofessionalism at its offices. Kemal Hashi Mohamoud, an MP, accused the Service of unfairly interrogating people from border regions such as Somali, Tigray, and Afar who visit its offices looking to obtain Ethiopian identification documents.

Abere Adamu, another MP, criticized the Service for being a constant subject of complaints and public outroar.

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