No agreement with US over 7,000 deportation plan – Foreign minister
The United States plans to deport at least 7,000 Ghanaians living there illegally continues to meet resistance from Ghana government.
Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey has insisted, Ghana will not facilitate the deportations following weeks of diplomatic pressure from the US.
According to the minister, the United States wants an agreement with Ghana to deport illegal immigrants within 24hours on a chartered flight. They also want the Ghana government to issue a certain number of travel documents per week.
“They feel that anybody they arrest who says is a Ghanaian, then they come [back] within 24hours”, she explained some of the demands to Joy News’ Evans Mensah.
Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey said the requests are “just not possible” and also expressed concerns about the manner in which Ghanaians are deported.
“They are brought back on chartered flights and they are shackled. Some are put in belly chains. It is not right”, the New Patriotic Pary MP for Anyaa Sowutuom in the Greater Accra region expressed disdain.
The Foreign minister said Ghana will continue to follow the processes already in place for issuing travel documents and stressed the US “must respect that”.
The US had threatened to impose Visa restrictions on Ghana if we fail to facilitate the deportation.
Last week, Ghana’s Ambassador to the US, Dr Barfuor Adjei-Barwuah told Journalists on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly that some agreement had been reached with the US on the issue.
“All that we were talking about was for a certain fairness to be applied and the Embassy not necessarily pressured to agree to see some people deported. This is where we had a difference of opinion with the US authorities,” he said and revealed Ghana has had “enough discussion for a certain sanity to prevail”.
But, the Foreign Minister said she has no knowledge of an agreement.“I don’t know of any understanding” she dismissed the report and explained any agreement would need the president’s approval.
“Whatever understanding he has reached with them has to be brought to Accra…This is something that would also have to go to cabinet”.
In a meeting with a parliament select committee in 2017, the US Ambassador to Ghana, Robert P Jackson confirmed that 7,000 Ghanaians await deportation for committing crimes or overstaying their visas.
The deportees are being sent home for various offences, ranging from drug possession, larceny, assault, theft, sexual assault, identity theft, illegal entry, forgery/fraud, resisting arrest and other non-criminal offences.
Ghana’s Ambassador to the U.S. Dr Barfuor Adjei-Barwuah refused to sanction the deportations and explained the process of marking out an immigrant for deportation is unfair.
He said he could not independently confirm that the persons to be deported were taken through legitimate and fair trial and cannot, therefore, be the one to sanction their deportation.
“You can only take it on the strength of the fact that the Americans say the trial was fair because you were not in the courtroom. You don’t know whether the person’s defence lawyer did seriously and adequately question the prosecution,” he said.
“Our argument is that we don’t have to be the final arbiter in the execution of a deportation order because we don’t have the information,” he said last May.