General News of Sunday, 16 July 2017
Shirley Ayorkor-Botchway, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration has hinted that the United States (US) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is planning to repatriate another batch of Ghanaians.
According to her, the Ghana Mission in the U.S was yet to be provided with the details of the number of deportees to be repatriated by the U.S authorities.
Besides, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through its Missions and Consulates was monitoring the situation closely and had also decided to work with the International Organisation for Migration in the interest of Ghanaian nationals.
Ms Ayorkor-Botchway gave the hint in Parliament when she answered questions from Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Member of Parliament ((MP) for North Tongu on claims made by the U.S Ambassador.
Mr Robert P. Jackson, U.S Ambassador in Ghana on April 27, 2017 at Sunyani made ascertains to the effect that 7,000 Ghanaian illegal immigrants in the U.S were to be deported.
Ms Ayorkor-Botchway also noted that as a result of the claims made, the Ghana Embassy in Washington D.C was requested to urgently confirm the claims with the relevant authorities and report back to relevant Authorities.
She said the Mission submitted an enquiry to the US ICE Agency, but they were unable to confirm whether the number of Ghanaians deportees was actually 7,000.
She said instead, the Mission was informed that 180 Ghanaians were under deportation orders, while an additional 185 cases were at various stages of processing, pending final deportation orders.
She said the U.S authorities further noted that 80 out of the 180 who had already been interviewed by the D.C Mission and Consulate in New York were due to be deported in June, 2017, while the remaining 100 were yet to be interviewed.
Ms Ayorkor-Botchway also indicated that the Ministry was informed that because of the legal processes involved, the deportation exercise would have to be staggered.
She said the ICE on June 14, 2017 effected the repatriation of 63 out of the 80 cleared for deportation, who arrived on a chartered flight on the said date.
She said their offences ranged from drug related issues, asylum seeking and credit card fraud to immigration related offences.
It was confirmed that all the deportees exhausted the legal processes to remain in the U.S.
Ms Ayorkor-Botchway also stated that following the arrival of the 63 deportees, the Ministry caused a Note Verbale to be transmitted to the U.S authorities through the U.S Embassy in Accra registering government’s concern about the process and the alleged ill-treatment of the Ghanaians during the flight to Ghana.
She said her Ministry summoned the US Ambassador, Mr Robert P. Jackson to her office to discuss the plight of the Ghanaians who were deported.
According to her, the issues of paramount concern were; reports of deportees being handcuffed and belly-chained throughout the flight from U.S to Ghana, lack of food, as well as inability to attend nature’s call due to handcuffs.
Ms Ayorkor-Botchway further stated that her Ministry took the opportunity to remind the U.S Ambassador that Ghana is a signatory to the United Nations International Convention on the Protection of the rights of all Migrant workers and members of their families and therefore expected the US authorities to respect the rights of the deportees in all aspects and accord them dignified treatment so as to ensure their general well-being.
She said her Ministry also urged the US authorities to give the deportees the opportunity, where possible, to gather their belongings before their departure.
She said the US Ambassador in response to alleged ill-treatment of deportees explained that the deportees had been previously offered the opportunity to board commercial flights, to which they refused and put-up resistance.
Ms Ayorkor-Botchway stated that the US Ambassador denied claims that the deportees were belly-chained or handcuffed for the duration of the flight and were unable to use the washroom.
According to the US Ambassador, the deportees were given three meals during the flight adding that under US laws those affected by deportation orders were always given the opportunity to exercise their right to appeal until the processes were exhausted.