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General News of Saturday, 2 February 2019


Ghana fights US over visa restrictions; suggests US government lied

Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration

Ghana has unequivocally rejected claims by the United States government that it has either failed or unreasonably delayed in issuing travelling documents to some illegal Ghanaian immigrants under deportation orders from the US.

The US government on January 31 announced visa sanctions on Ghana because it said the latter has failed to live up to its obligations under international law to accept the return of its 7,000 nationals ordered removed from the US.

The US government said it has since July 2016 engaged with the government of Ghana in both Washington, DC and Accra on this matter but the needed results has not been achieved.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo consequently ordered the consular officers in Ghana to start implementing visa restrictions on certain categories of visa applicants effective February 4.

The restriction is expected to last until Ghana cooperates with US authorities to get the immigrants back home.

But a statement from the Ghana Foreign Ministry said the claims by the US cannot be accurate as Ghana has been in constant communication with US authorities on the matter said to have dragged from July 2016.

“The Ministry wishes to state that it has always cooperated with the US authorities in the processing and removal of Ghanaian citizens who have been cited for deportation from the US to Ghana.

“The Ministry wishes to state that these allegations are unfounded and the sanctions imposed on Ghana are without any justification whatsoever,” the statement insisted.

Ghana, the Foreign Ministry said, is ensuring in every way possible that the said immigrants are indeed Ghanaians before they provide them with the said travel documents to enter Ghana.

“As is the requirement and in accordance with international law, the Ghana Embassy in Washington DC undertakes identification and verification processes to ensure that all persons earmarked for deportation to Ghana are bonafide citizens.”

“It should be noted that as at 8th January 2019, our Washington Mission had received twenty eight (28) applications from the U.S Authorities, out of which nineteen (19) had been interviewed by the Embassy and eleven (11) travelling certificates issued or their travel to Ghana.

Those who have not been cleared for deportation are still in the US because the Ministry said their identity as Ghanaians cannot be proven, thus cannot be allowed into the country.

“Those outstanding are as a result of doubts of their Ghanaian nationality, ill health and pending litigation in US courts,” the statement said.

The Ministry expressed disappointment over the decision by the US authorities to restrict visas to Ghanaians who want to enter the US.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration notes 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 ordered to be removed from the United States.”

Notwithstanding, the Ministry said it will do all it can to ensure that Ghanaian immigrants in the US who are due for deportation are transported back home in a dignified manner.

“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.”

Measures will be put in place within the international laws to ensure that the situation is dealt with, it said.