18 March 2019

Gambia: German Repatriation Was Best Practices of Return Procedure Between EU and Gambia

German Refugee Council of Baden-Württemberg said last week that following the news of an alleged agreement between Gambia government and German Ambassador to suspend the deportations until further notice, they received a response and immediately began to launch enquiries last Monday morning and on Thursday, from the Federal Foreign Office that repatriation of some Gambians from Germany had taken place on the basis of "Best practices for the efficient implementation of the return procedure between the European Union (EU) and Gambia," which have been negotiated between the European Union and The Gambian Government.

The Council says on the basis of the agreement, repatriations to The Gambia will also take place in the future, although the next planned charter flight was initially postponed. "There is no agreement to suspend deportations to The Gambia."

In a statement, the Council said the deportations from Germany to The Gambia are causing considerable controversy in both countries, saying at the end of last week, a report spread that Gambian government claimed to have reached an agreement with the German Ambassador to suspend the deportations until further notice. "Furthermore, Gambian government denied any participation in the deportations and any agreement with Germany or the EU regarding repatriations."

It stated that the news, which was spread by various media in Gambia, spread very quickly as far as Germany. "Since the weekend, the Refugee Council has received numerous inquiries from people who want to know whether this is really the case. In some cases, volunteer groups who work with refugees spread the news about the alleged agreement."

The Council stated that last year, Gambian journalist Mustapha K. Darboe reported on ongoing negotiations between the EU and The Gambian government in his blog. The name of the agreement which he reported as being under negotiation at the time, coincides with the name of the agreement to which the Federal Foreign Office refers. "Since last year, people from The Gambia have been asked at regular and short intervals to speak to a Gambian delegation in Karlsruhe about the work of identity clarification. Employees of the Gambian Immigration Office are present at these interviews. It has happened in some cases that persons who did not have passports or other identity papers were deported after successful identification during these talks."

The Council said it is therefore obvious from their point of view that some kind of document, which facilitates the deportation of people who otherwise could not be deported due to lack of passport or papers, can be produced on the basis of these interviews with the Gambian delegation. Therefore, the current deportations could not take place without the active cooperation of the Gambian authorities.

"We hope that this information will be useful for Gambian refugees and their supporters. On this occasion we are would like to pass on the request of the Gambia Assistance Network to contact the Assistance Network with details of those affected in the event of deportations or attempted deportations: Email: gambia@helferkreis-breisach.de


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