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Opinions of Friday, 22 June 2018

Columnist: Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa

US-Ghana visa restriction: Hostile approach not only regrettable but curious

Seen the June 20, 2018 United States Embassy statement which criticised Ghana for allegedly reneging on its ICAO obligations under the U.S. programmed mass deportation of Ghanaians and the consequential threat of visa restrictions on Ghana.

The tone and seemingly hostile approach is not only regrettable but curious.

Hoping that the recent demonstrations and fierce resistance by Ghanaians to the Ghana-US Defence Cooperation Agreement is not a precipitating factor for this hardline stance.

Be that as it may, while sovereign nations reserve the right to remove persons from their jurisdictions, sovereign nations also owe duties and responsibilities to their citizens especially under Article 5 of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Without holding brief for the Akufo-Addo Government, it cannot be expected therefore that our missions in Washington DC and New York will at once issue travel documents for the wholesale deportation of thousands of Ghanaians on the strict orders of the US without the necessary due diligence and consular assistance. Questions about true nationality, alleged offences and the rights of accused persons to be heard among other considerations will surely require a fair amount of time. All countries including the United States are conversant with these traditions and conventions.

We must continue to cherish and deepen our longstanding bilateral relations with the U.S., however, we are not unaware of the current difficulties involved in forging understandings and partnerships on important issues with the U.S. under President Trump considering the fate of even the staunchest allies of the US in this era of Trump-inspired isolationism.

It is striking that this announcement on Ghana came the same week the U.S. withdrew its membership from the United Nations Human Rights Council and has faced both internal and external condemnation over its policy that as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights puts it - "unconscionably separates migrant children from their parents at the U.S.- Mexico border."



Certainly the Minority in Parliament will in the coming days request that the Foreign Minister apprise Parliament on these developments. The Foreign Affairs Committee may also consider a second invitation to the U.S. Ambassador seeing that the related issue about the alleged dehumanizing mode of deportation when the Ambassador last appeared before us remains largely unresolved.

Hopefully, sooner than later; we will all learn to show greater care to each other and commit to living together in a fair and just world no matter the sacrifices that may be required.



Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa (MP)
Ranking Member, Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.
[22/06/18]