A mini-commotion erupted in Lebanon this week over the country’s passport, after reports that it deserved to be considered among the worst in the world.
The day after the news emerged and was widely circulated, and commented on, General Security responded with a spirited defense of its institution, which is responsible for formalities for passports and entry and exit into Lebanon.
Some of the arguments that General Security put forward are understandable, while others are a bit off the mark – the institution complained that the headline “Lebanese passport among the 10 worst passports in the world” was not present in the original report on ranking the world’s passports, but since Lebanon was tied for 88th place out of 94 countries, the media’s decision to highlight the story this way can be defended easily.
General Security also stated that it was in the process of adopting a new, advanced biometric passport, which will certainly upgrade the status of the travel document.
The information about Lebanon’s low ranking, however, shouldn’t cause General Security to go ballistic and consider the news an attack on its performance. If Lebanon’s currency were to suddenly take a dive, few people would look around and blame the institution that prints the money as being responsible for such a negative development.
In case anyone has forgotten, General Security does not unilaterally conclude treaties with other countries, or decide the level of diplomatic ties and other matters.
In fact, it currently more than has its hands full working under quasi-emergency conditions due to the massive influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon. It is also partly responsible for overseeing the smooth entry and exit of thousands of domestic migrant workers, whose formalities can involve difficult interaction with employment agencies and foreign governments.
The fact is, it is the legislative and executive branches where responsibility should be assigned when it comes to the question of whether Lebanese can enter a given country without a visa.
But what is worrisome is that politicians and officials seemed to take the news about the Lebanese passport in stride, as if they had no part to play in this dreary tale. But this isn’t completely surprising, because the public has lost hope in seeing officials do anything more than just talk about the need to solve people’s daily problems.
General Security is primarily a passport and border control body, and it has only partial responsibility for the security situation in Lebanon – incidents of tension and violence, Lebanon’s reputation internationally, and all related matters should be addressed by officials and politicians, and should not be considered a smear campaign against a state agency that has its hands full keeping up with routine work.