Govt promises to fix Indonesian passport woes


The Law and Human Rights Ministry and Foreign Ministry are working to solve a problem with certain Indonesian passports that has resulted in the German Embassy’s rejection of visa applicants. - (JP/Shutterstock/File)

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network): The Law and Human Rights Ministry and Foreign Ministry are working to solve a problem with certain Indonesian passports that has resulted in the German Embassy’s rejection of visa applicants.

The passports in question lack a place for the signature of the holder, an omission that German immigration officials have objected to.

Authorities are still discussing the issue with the German Embassy in Jakarta, according to a press release sent on Sunday (Aug 14) by the Immigration Directorate General, which is under the law ministry.

Seeking an interim fix, director for immigration traffic Amran Aris has instructed immigration offices to accommodate requests from passport holders to add signatures to the endorsement pages of their passports.

Endorsement pages are sometimes used to display a name change through marriage or divorce.

"Holders wanting to have their signatures displayed on the endorsement page of the passport can file a request either with immigration [officials] or Indonesian embassies abroad free of charge," Amran said, citing “efficiency” as the reason for the 2019 launch of a passport without a section for the holder’s signature.

The German Embassy website, when accessed on Sunday, said Indonesian “passports without a signature section” could not be used to apply for a visa until further notice and that the two governments were still seeking a solution to the matter.

The website also noted that add-on signatures on the endorsement pages of the passports were “not recognised as a substitute for the required signature section”.

The Foreign Ministry sent a letter to the embassy on Friday requesting that it accept the visa applications of Indonesians holding passports without signatures. The ministry explained in the letter that the government had produced this type of passport from 2019 to 2020 before returning to use a design that featured holders' signatures in 2021.

The ministry said the signatures would be added to either the second- or third-to-last page of the passports without a signature section after holders secured approval for the addition.

"The ministry respectfully confirms that these travel documents are valid as authentic Indonesian travel documents," the ministry said in a statement, as reported by Tempo.co.

The issue gained public attention after an Indonesian citizen holding a passport without a signature section posted on social media that the German Embassy in Jakarta had denied their visa application because of the omission.

Taufik Basari, who sits on House of Representatives Commission III overseeing legal affairs and is a member of the NasDem Party, called on the government to solve the problem as soon as possible.

“If Germany could permanently accept the use of this type of Indonesian passport, Jakarta should ensure that no other countries refuse [to recognise such passports],” he said in a statement on Friday.

Commission III was planning to summon Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly for an explanation after lawmakers returned from recess on Tuesday, Taufik said.

It remains unclear whether other countries will refuse to recognise the unsigned passports.

Indonesia ranks 76th on the 2022 Henley Passport Index, a list of the world's most powerful passports by immigration consulting firm Henley & Partners. Indonesians can visit 72 countries without the hassle of applying for a visa, far fewer than passport holders of neighbouring Singapore who can visit 192 countries under the same conditions.

Singapore ranks 2nd on the index. Indonesia shares its ranking with Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia.

Indonesia also ranks behind neighbouring Timor Leste, which sits in 60th with visa-free access to 94 countries, and Papua New Guinea, in 67th place with access to 83 countries.

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Indonesia , passport , Germany , visa , application

   

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