President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Executive Mansion, Monrovia
C/o The Foreign Minister
Sept 7, 2017
Dear Madam President,
Please permit me to write you this letter through the Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs.I am Ralph Z. David, an aggrieved Liberian, hailing from Nimba County (passport OR/00717xxx) and living in the city of Parma, Italy writing to complain the extortion scheme carried out by the Head of the Embassy of Liberia in Rome, Mr. Harano Rashid Kromah for your motherly attention and intervention.
Madam President, many of the Liberians in Italy are being exploited, coerced and extorted by the Acting Ambassador, Mr. Harano Rashid Kromah and his girlfriend at the Embassy. I regret to tell you Madam that this corruption has been happening at the Embassy in Italy since this man took over and many of Liberians here are afraid to report because of threats, blackmail and intimidation. They continue to charge us even for a simple nullo osta for the police declaration. Lessez passez is sold to us for 100 euro by the embassy and they don’t give us any receipt to show that we have paid. Most of the time Liberians are not issued receipts at all. Even the people who are given visa in their itaslian passports, they use some kind of ink pad stamp with no receipt. When you ask for receipt, they get vex and threaten to call police on you because they feel that we are all clandestine immigrants. Please help us.
We have just come from Libya by boat. Me and my friends travelled to Libya by land through Mali and underwent severe suffering and maltreatment in the Libyan capital where we were detained and underwent hard labour.
As suffering Liberians seeking for greener pasture, we risked our lives by jumping on boats from Libya to Italy and through God’s Grace, some of us were among several other Liberians and other African brothers who safely made it to the Italian shores of Lampodosa and was rescued by good people. Many others didn’t make it alive.
Having spent several months in isolation camp in Italy, we were finally granted the temporary permit to stay on humanitarian consideration. We were issued papers to stay but were requested to seek valid document from our embassy or renew our passports so that we can be granted a permanent status. As desperate as we were, I proceeded along with some colleagues to the Liberian Embassy in Rome, Via Medaglie doro 7. Upon arriving at the embassy, we were not given any good reception which other Liberians have always complained about when they visit the embassy. The harsh language of Mr. Koroma in fact makes you afraid of him for anything assistance you may need. And fees charged to give simple documents are very expensive with no receipts given. He is very rude and impolite to Liberians visiting the embassy.
On March 24 this year, three of us went to the Embassy for the renewal of our passports and to be issued documents and were charged exorbitantly. We were each charged the amount of 150 euro which is about 175 dollars for renewal. Each of us paid to Mr Koroma in his office where he personally stamped in our passports the renewal without giving us receipts. But to our surprised, this was only a simple ink pad stamp placed in our passports for the huge amount charged. Please see my passport here attached for your review.
When we asked if it was possible to get a new passport, he told us that the new passport would cost each of us about 400 dollars. Because we couldn’t afford the 400 dollars each, we decided to pay the 150 euro each which he even said he was helping us because the Government of Liberia has stopped renewing the old passports. When we asked for a receipt, he got angry by saying if we request for any receipt, then we must pay the full amount of 200 euro for each renewal. He threatened us that he will call the police on us if we didn’t leave quietly. We bitterly and unsatisfactorily left his office. As we went downstairs, the Italian lady working in the embassy felt so sorry for us and even helped pay our way. She herself was not happy and she told us that this man is always doing this to poor struggling Liberians who can’t afford to spend so much. She told us that she used to handle passport renewal under the old ambassador because Mr Koroma was only doing receptionist job but since he got this job, she doesn’t handle that again. She suggested that we travel to Brussels but we had no valid travel document.
My friends are afraid to make any complaint against this man but I have decided to do so because, my passport was not accepted by the Italian immigration because it expires on September 23 of this month. We were also told that the embassy usually issues a renewal adhesive sticker so why didn’t they put the adhesive sticker in the passport? I also met one other Liberian fellow who renewed his passport at the same embassy and an adhesive sticker was placed in his passport but not the ink pad stamp. He paid the amount of 250 euro for this renewal and this renewal was honored and accepted by the Italian immigration because they say it was genuine. This very passport of mine was renewed before in Abidjan where I only paid 50 dollars to one Mr. John Jallah at the Liberian Embassy in Abidjan. Madam, why should we be treated like this Madam President, considering how desperate we are seeking for better life?
Liberians in Italy are suffering too much Madam President since this man took over the embassy extorting money from everyone. In fact, he borrows and takes money from poor hardworking Liberians and he doesn’t repay them back. Whenever you ask him for the repayment of your money, he tells you that he is the Embassador and related to the Foreign Minister so no one can do anything to him. Many Liberians say this man used to do the same thing even when the old Ambassador was here in Italy. Mr. Kroma has always frightened Liberians whenever he was asked to repay back their money. Please ma, help us because we are suffering too much as I have already stated. Many of our friends making this journey died in the sea and for us who have made it, our own government is not punishing us by taking our hard-earned money. On behalf of myself and my countrymen, we are begging you to please listen to our cry to help us before you leave office.
Madam President, we know how hard you have tried developing our motherland and we thank you. Many of your citizens in this country are suffering because there are no jobs so everyone who comes in try to migrate to France or northern Europe like Sweden. But with no valid travel document, you are compelled to stay here and work in the tomato farms exploited and paid with small money. We have families back home that we have to help even with the small money that we receive so please tell your embassy people to feel sorry for us. We are poor and catching hell Madam.
Thank you very much for reading my letter and we have the hope that you will take an action to relieve us of this heavy load. Please see my address below.
Ralph Z. David
43121 Parma (PR) Italy