Ghana Responds to U.S. Claim - Visa Sanctions Unjustified

The plane had only the American pilot on board.
4 February 2019

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration has noted with concern and disappointment the decision of the United States authorities to implement visa sanctions on Ghana for alleged lack of adequate cooperation in accepting Ghanaian nationals who have been removed from the United States.

In a statement issued last Friday, in Accra, and copied the Ghanaian Times, it said "The ministry wishes to state that these allegations are unfounded and the sanctions imposed on Ghana are without any justification whatsoever," the statement said.

The statement said Ghana had always cooperated with the US authorities in the processing of and removal of Ghanaian citizens who had been cited for deportation from the US to Ghana.

"As is the requirement and in accordance with international law, the Ghana Embassy in Washington DC undertakes identification and verification process to ensure that all persons earmarked for deportation to Ghana are bonafide citizens of Ghana," the statement said

All countries, it said, undertook these processes to accept their deported citizens from all over the world and that it was not peculiar to Ghana and the US.

It added that the identification of verification mechanism had stipulated timelines and procedures which were communicated to the deporting authorities all the time.

The statement noted that as at January 8, 2019, "Our Washington Mission had received 28 applications from the US authorities out of which 19 had been interviewed by the Embassy and 11 travelling certificates issued for their travel to Ghana."

"Those outstanding are as a result of doubts of their nationality, ill health and pending litigation in the US courts," it explained.

"Officers of the US Embassy have verbally informed the ministry that there are about 7,000 Ghanaians who are at different stages of deportation proceedings. However, there has not been any confirmation by the US authorities of a final court order for their removal in accordance with the US' own laws," the statement added.

The statement stated that in the past instances, where there had been deportations of Ghanaian citizens, Ghana had the cause to complain about the manner in which "our compatriots have been transported back home in belly chains and physically cuffed to their seats on the aircraft."

It, has therefore, urged the US government to recognise and ensure that deportation processes were consistent with international best practices and national laws and must uphold the dignity of the people involved at all times including those convicted of crimes.

According to the statement, it was surprising that the US authorities would ignore the international protocols that needed to be observed in the matters of deportation and make allegations of lack of cooperation by Ghana.

"Ghana as a sovereign country has the duty to and will continue to protect its nationals all over the world, including that the appropriate processes would be undertaken in all issues relating to its citizens who are cited for deportation from other countries."

The ministry concluded that it was assessing the situation and would institute appropriate measures within the context of international laws and bilateral relations between Ghana and the United States in due course.

The US Secretary, Mike Pompeo had ordered the consular officers in the US Embassy in Accra to implement the visa restrictions on certain categories of visa applicants.

The visa restrictions would affect Members of Parliament, their dependents and spouses as well as some selected government officials.

The US authority imposed the sanctions on Ghana for what it said was the Ghanaian government's failure to accept its nationals who were awaiting deportation from the US.

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