I am a frequent listener of your radio. I want to thank you for continuing to do a fantastic job in terms of Public Information, democracy and the rule of law in the Gambia.
I would like to the issue of returnees, I mean Gambians being recently being deported from Gambia and elsewhere. The comments I heard from some individuals are disturbing because they are wrongly accusing innocent officers at Immigration and at the Interior Ministry as the ones responsible for the deportation of Gambians. Well I work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and this is what exactly happened.
Since the new government came to power, they were under pressure from the EU member states to accept Gambians back which the Government refused and sees it as a threat to our new freedom and democracy. However, the EU Ambassador and other EU senior government officials continued to put pressure on the government and at some points they submitted what they considered the EU Good Practice. Some countries in the region have already agreed and endorsed the EU Good Practice including Senegal, Burkina Faso just to name a few. Gambia was threatened by EU to withhold all the funding earmarked for the Gambia.
Sometime last year, as the last resort, the Ministry of Foreign affairs submitted a cabinet paper seeking cabinet decision on the EU’s Good Practice on returning migrants. The Cabinet, with few amendments, approved the document meaning that Gambia would now accept the returnees like Senegal and other countries. The cabinet requested for a grace period until November 2018 from EU to suspend the implementation of the EU Good Practice.
Pa, I have provided a copy of the EU Good Practice document for your views to see. The cabinet paper was authored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the PSs can confirm if you wish to call them. So to cut the story was a joint decision by cabinet and beyond the Department of Immigration or the Ministry of Interior.
The identification programme has been going on since Jawara’s time.
Furthermore, the deportation procedure goes as follows:
The sending country will inform the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through their Embassies their intent to depot Gambians from their country, the information will include the date, numbers persons to be deported and the flight details. They will also request for landing rights for the flight. Following the receipt of the note verbale, Ministry of Foreign Affairs will write to inform Ministry of Interior, Immigration Department and others. Then Unless the Government refuse to accept the would-be deportees, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would write to Ministry of Defence for Landing Rights which is forwarded to the President for approval.
So, any flight caring deportees must get acceptance from the Government of the Gambia and also approval for the aircraft to land from the President. So you see individuals persons at either Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Interior or Immigration Department cannot be blamed for the acceptance of the returnees. It is a collective decision by the Government to agree to the EU’s Best Practice and to accept Gambian Deportees.
Staff of MoFA