Non-Gambian nationals from other African Countries residing in the country are claiming harassment and degrading treatment at the hands of the Immigration Enforcement officials on the issue of Alien registration. Some of these people staying in the Kanifing Municipality have complaint to Foroyaa about how they are being a in the streets by uniformed Gambia Immigration Department (GID) personnel arrested in the streets and treated in a degrading way before being forced to pay for registration .
In an interview with the GID Public Relation Officer (PRO) on the complaints made by non-Gambian Africans, Superintendent Ensa Jawara said it is a requirement under the Alien Registration Act for non- Gambians, ECOWAS and non-ECOWAS nationals to register in order in order for them to regularize their legal stay in the country. He said there are three countries namely Senegal, Guinea Bissau and Ivory Coast which are categorized as non-Gambian ID Card holders.
According to him, the ECOWAS nationals are issued with Residential Permits A and B; that Permit A is for students and retired workers who want to reside in the country, while Permit B is for the skilled and non-skilled workers; that the fee for both permits is D1, 300.
He said the residential ID Card for the non-ECOWAS category costs D1, 500, while the non-Gambian ID is D300.
The Immigration Spokesperson said "when the aliens come into the country after the Immigration scrutinize them they are given the privilege to stay in the country for a number of days before they are asked to pay for registration."
Superintendent Jawara said the ECOWAS nationals are given 90 days while non ECOWAS nationals have 56 days to stay in the country without paying anything. He added that if the non-national decides to stay much longer in the country then the person has to apply through the Director General of Immigration who then gives approval based on how one comports oneself during stay in the country prior to the application for the permit.
On the issue of the claim of harassment, Superintendent Jawara responded that the GID has created a unit called the Professional Standard Unit whose work is to train their personnel to be able to handle matters professionally. He added that their officers are strictly warned to behave well in their work and show courtesy in their approach.
Superintendent Jawara advised that if anybody has any complaint of harassment by an Immigration officer, the person should immediately report to the Professional Standard Unit and the matter will be looked into.
The Immigration PRO said that he would want to take the opportunity to appeal to compound owners to advice their non-Gambian tenants to come and register to enable them to live freely in the country. He also appealed to the general to be supportive to their work in the interest of both Gambians and non-nationals.