Feature Article of Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Columnist: Frank S. Debrah
By Frank S. Debrah
For many in Ghana, the name Pickton may not sound an alarm bell. Here in Canada, however, the mere mention of the name Pickton sends shivers in the spine of almost every living Canadian in this country of 34 million inhabitants. Why? Robert William Pickton is a notorious convicted serial killer who murdered 33 women here in Vancouver. The bodies of the women were suspected to have been cut up into pieces and slowly fed to pigs over a period of time. Thus, Canadian police were able to identify only bone fragments, DNA samples and personal items of the victims on the property of the serial killer. Pickton is currently serving a life sentence in prison.
As a Ghanaian-Canadian living here in Vancouver and very familiar with the name Pickton, I was speechless when I woke up this morning to find gleaming newspaper stories reporting that Dave Pickton, the brother of Robert Pickton, has recently visited Ghana and set up a ‘charitable’ foundation to ‘help the poor’ in the country. On the Pickton Foundation’s website (http://picktonfoundation.org/) is the usual inflammatory images of poor malnourished black kids that Western NGO’s typically use to emotionally sway individuals to donate money.
Granted, Dave is not his brother Robert; nevertheless, Dave Pickton was convicted of sexual assault in Canada in 1992 and is currently the subject of a poster campaign by Vancouver Downtown Eastside Groups warning women against his presence in the area, according to prominent local news media. The Vancouver Downtown Eastside is an area where the victims of Robert Pickton originated.
Whether Dave Pickton’s foundation is a genuine effort to help the poor or a public relations exercise to cleanse the image of the Pickton name in Canada is not the subject under discussion at this moment although one is free to draw their own conclusions. The subject under discussion is Ghanaian immigration law. Given Dave Pickton’s criminal history, one wonders how and why he was admitted to Ghana. To the best of my knowledge, Ghanaian immigration law forbids individuals with criminal history from entering the country.
Unless the law has changed in recent times to permit sexual offenders into the country, and I am not aware of any such change, Dave Pickton was clearly inadmissible in Ghana. Did he fail to disclose his criminal record status to Ghanaian authorities as required by Ghanaian immigration law? Did he enter the country illegally without going through the appropriate border control checkpoints? Did officials at the Ghana High Commission in Canada willingly grant him a Visa despite being inadmissible? These are questions that clearly beg for answers.
Border protection is a serious business. Nobody can testify to this fact better than Ghanaians seeking entry into other countries. Often times one has to undergo vigorous scrutiny by officials of foreign embassies in Ghana before one can secure a visitors’, business or immigrant visa, if you’re lucky. The process is designed to ensure that inadmissible Ghanaians are prevented from entering into the countries that they are seeking access to. Ghanaians must enforce their immigration laws in the same diligent manner others enforce theirs in order to protect the inhabitants of Ghana from sexual offenders.
I challenge the Ghana High Commission in Ottawa, the Ghana Immigration Services and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration to investigate the circumstances of Dave Pickton’s entry into the country. Ghana must not become the whore of Africa; it must not open its legs to anybody who can pay! Is this too much to ask for?