Coalition leader and secretary general of The Gambia Moral Congress (GMC), Fatty, has faulted the manner in which Gambians are currently being deported from the United States and The European Union, arguing they fall short of human rights and international laws.
Questioning the Gambian State.
Now, in an exclusive interview this week, Ahmad Mai Fatty, also an international lawyer questioned the role of the Gambian state is, particularly when its citizens are deported recklessly, deeply rooted from the U.S. and elsewhere in Europe, where they have assets and children.
Deportation is not actually Fatty’s issue.
“The issue here is not just a deportation,” fatty argued: “As a sovereign country, The Gambia also deports other citizens… as a former Minister of Interior, I know something about that. It was necessary for me as minister to sign a deportation order, when it is in order and subject to law.”
The issue is how the Gambians are kicked out.
The United States last week deported over 40 Gambians while the EU is also poised to send at least 50 back to The Gambia, according to reports. “We have no qualms with U.S. deporting other citizens. But we have great objections in the manner in which our citizens are kicked out of the US. These are human beings for God’s sake,” Fatty lamented.
The assets of Gambians should be given back.
He implored the Gambia government to engage the United States on the matter, to make sure that the assets of the repatriated Gambians are carefully accounted for and given to them, so that it can benefit them back in their country home here.
It is unfair to send the Gambians empty handed.
“They have spent years of their lives – some of them 20 to 30years of their lives in the U.S. They have been paying taxes, they have contributed to the U.S. economy. They have contributed to making lives better in the U.S., some of them have assets and businesses in that country. It would be wrong to disconnect them totally from their entire lives’ earnings and their connections and send them back to The Gambia,” Fatty argued.
Gambians’ contribution has been relevant.
The Gambia has tens of thousands living and working in the diaspora, contributing to much needed remittances that make up over 20 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
Gambia signed no deportation agreement.
The Gambia’s Foreign Minister Ousainou Darboe, had told members of the national Assembly that The Gambia did not sign any deportation agreement with the US or the EU.
Former Interior Minister Fatty said it would be very fair to this government to state that this is an inherited problem. It is not a problem that was created during the Barrow administration.
It gets worse:
One can say that the Gambians did nothing wrong.
Some of the deportees were convicts, others were serving sentences, while some of them were also picked up from their work places for violations of Immigration laws – not just ordinary criminals who committed unlawful acts but people who violated other civil laws, such as traffic offences, overstay of Immigration status and so forth. In fact, some of them have never stepped their feet at a Police station… they are just victims of unjust immigration laws of the United States, Fatty said.
“We have seen tales of Gambians who were just whisked recklessly from their jobs and then taken to detention centres for three or four months, without serious connections or communications; or real access to what makes them human beings, causing them to fear. And then sent back home,” he lamented, arguing it will be necessary for the Gambian government to constitute a team, use its diplomacy to make sure the assets of those Gambians, or whatever they have in the U.S., truly, is given to them.
Gambians should be compensated.
“As a political party, we feel very strongly about this. We are going to continue to engage our government, but we will also make a diplomatic representation to the US to understand that the assets of Gambians, their savings and their material possessions belong to them. And arrangements should be made for these belongings to be given to them,” said he.
The Deportation Saga is global.
According to Fatty, while the whole world is wallowing about deportation from the US today, that country deported excess of 450, 000 from their country in 2016 alone. “Today, we are all going through the challenges that some of our citizens are experiencing in United States – 45 in number, but in total, they are really over 2,000 Gambians who are due to be back home,” he stated.
Introduction of Managed Deportation
Where deportations are inevitable, Fatty said there need to be “Managed deportation” https://ctt.ec/vb5pq – a manner that is consistent with human rights and international law. It should be a process of massive consultation between both sides: the deporting country and the receiving country, he argued.
Gambian Citizens are always welcome back.
“Certainly, there is no law in this land that says a Gambian citizen cannot return home. When you are deported, you are welcome home. That was why Gambians who were returning from Libya and elsewhere, I went to the airport to receive them, and make them understand that they are welcome back home and that the state will be there to support them,” he added.
The rights of Gambians should be protected.
Gambian citizens who have affinity – either children or other connections in the US – need to be taken into active considerations. “That we as a nation should stand for our people, to make sure that their rights are not only protected in those countries but also in the deportation proceedings and the entire process. This is very, very important,” Fatty emphasized.
Voluntary Repatriation should be encouraged.
“The same applies to Europe as well. I have always believed that, it is important to start with voluntary repatriation – with those Gambians who would like to return home voluntarily. There are many of them and we have evidence, because during my time, we brought home nearly 2,000, voluntarily,” he indicated, noting that is therefore important to call detention centres in Europe and United States, to identify those who would want to come home on their own.
“That would be a good start. Let us start with the low hanging fruits before we start extracting people like they were fruits being plugged from a tree and thrown into containers to be shipped to Gambia,” he added.
We need to have pragmatic diplomacy. It is necessary to have a citizen driven diplomacy that is centred on the Gambian citizen, on protecting every Gambian citizen in any shore, in any part of the world.
“The interest of the Gambian citizen ought to be protected and we should insist on consular visit to those Gambians who are deported and using our diplomatic representation in ensuring that their assets and properties are secured and are also protected so that they could be put to better use for these Gambians and generally for Gambian societies.
No distinction between national and geographical Gambians.
He reminisced that when Gambians brought about this change through collective national effort, every Gambian should be a dividend of it, both at home and abroad. “That is why when it comes to matters affecting Gambians, we make no distinction between Gambians in The Gambia and those living in the diaspora. A Gambian does not lose his citizenship or accompanying rights or obligations and entitlements, by virtue of living outside the Gambia. Wherever the Gambian is in any part of the world, he or she remains a Gambian, and he or she remains entitled to the protection of the government and the resources, to ensure that their rights are also protected in those countries,” he said.
GMC’s contribution to Gambia’s political liberation.
According to Fatty, GMC has been the party that was the most active on the diplomatic front in the fight against dictatorship in The Gambia. On behalf of the party, he visited not less than 19-member countries of the European Union in order to “marshal substantial support” for the political liberation of the Gambia.
“We did this singlehandedly, mostly with funding from our own internal sources. Some of these diplomatic initiatives took us to Brussels five times over those years; meetings with the EU including its External Actions Services (DJS) and the European Parliament. All these were intended towards galvanizing international efforts and building international consensus towards the Gambian question.
“We have also been active with the U.S. state Department, the UN and other multilateral agencies in order to drum up support for the Gambian political imbroglio. We have achieved significant progress during this process…
Of the 17-point principle that was dangled before the former president as a stick in January 2013, GMC leader said 9 of these principles were verbatim copies of the submission made by GMC in Brussels only two months earlier. “I conducted a final trip to conduct constructive meetings with European External Action Services, and the Managing Director was dispatched and President Jammeh was shown 17-principles, which if not fulfilled, was going to create a schism between The Gambia and European relations,” he added.
Similar tremendous work was also conducted within the ECOWAS, foremost with the ECOWAS itself as an institution of regional governments. Significant progress was registered with GMC’s diplomacy… with some activities also in Senegal.
“The liberation of this country wouldn’t have happened without the role played by the GMC. We are key, and we continue to be major players in the Gambia’s political scene,” Fatty said.