Ghana Foreign Ministry has condemned the imposition of visa restriction by Washington on Ghana following a row over the deportation of Ghanaians illegally staying in the United States.
The move, which goes into effect on February 4, will also affect government employees and politicians.
The Ministry in a statement expressed concern and disappointment for alleged lack of adequate cooperation in accepting Ghanaian nationals who have been ordered to be removed from the US.
“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 of Ghana,” the ministry said in a statement.
The US has accused Ghana of refusing to accept the return of Ghanaian nationals that it wants to deport.
“Secretary of State (Mike) Pompeo has ordered consular officers in Ghana to implement visa restrictions on certain categories of visa applicants,” the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement.
“Without an appropriate response from Ghana, the scope of these sanctions may be expanded to a wider population,” it said.However, the Ministry explains that as at January 8, 2019, its 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.
It said those outstanding are as a result of doubts on their Ghanaian nationality, ill health and pending litigation in US courts.
“Officers of the US Embassy have verbally informed the Ministry that there are about 7000 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 U.S.’s own laws,” it added.
The Ministry stressed it concerns with past instances where there have been deportations of Ghanaian and the country has had a cause to complain about the manner in which the persons have been transported back home “in belly chains and physically cuffed to their seats on the aircraft.”
Following from that, the ministry has urged the US government to recognise and ensure that deportation processes are 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.
“It is, therefore, surprising that the US authorities would ignore the international protocols that need to be observed in matters of deportation and make allegations of lack of cooperation by Ghana.
“The Ministry wishes to state that these allegations are unfounded and the sanctions imposed on Ghana are without any justification whatsoever,” it said.
The Ministry said it is assessing the situation and would institute appropriate measures within the context of international law and the bilateral relations between Ghana and the United States in due course.
Some 7,000 Ghanaians are living illegally in the United States, according to the US embassy in Accra.
Washington said the sanctions would not be lifted until Ghanaian authorities comply with the directives.
“We hope the Ghanaian government will work with us to reconcile these deficiencies quickly,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.
Source: Pulse Ghana