Akufo-Addo Gets US Visa Ban

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Despite Military Base Gift To Americans Gift to Americans

The establishment an American Military base in Ghana through the magnanimity of President Akufo-Addo, has not created the strong bond many, especially those in government had envisaged between the two countries. They are currently at loggerheads accusing each of many things over the deportations of some Ghanaians nationals from the US.

The standoff between the two governments have led to the Americans placing visa restriction on some categories of Ghanaian diplomatic workers, and the new American Ambassador has explained that her country’s decision had been necessitated by the failure of bilateral efforts to resolve the issue.

Stephanie S. Sullivan said the US had been working with Ghana for more than two years for Ghana to issue documents to its nationals under deportation orders in the US, however, there appears to be no end in sight.

But the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration has refuted claims by the United States of America government that it is not cooperating on the deportation of Ghanaians from the US, which has led to visa sanctions being placed on some Ghanaian citizens.

In the Akufo-Addo government’s first official response on the matter, the Foreign Ministry expressed concern and disappointment with the development saying such allegations were “unfounded.”

US envoy had said the Department of Homeland Security and Department of the State has been working with the Ghanaian Embassy in Washington and Foreign Affairs Ministry in Ghana to issue passports for Ghanaians who were subject to deportation orders within 30 days, in line with the UN Convention on International Civil Aviation.

Speaking during her first interaction with the press in Accra, she said, “Government of Ghana has consistently not met in a timely way this internationally mandated standard of the UN Convention on International Civil Aviation.”

She said the timely issuance of the passports helped to facilitate deportee’s departure on commercial flights, failure of which meant that the US had to arrange charter flights or in some cases, release those under final orders of removal within the US.

Ms Sullivan said the US would, as a result, pause the issuance of all new visas for domestic employees of Ghanaian Diplomats hosted in the US, effective Monday.

The Embassy would also limit the normal five-year validity period and a number of entries on Tourist and Business visas for all Ghanaian Executive and Legislative branch employees, their spouses and children under age 21, to single entry visas valid for only one month.

“This will also apply to Ghanaians who are not government employees but hold diplomatic and official passports,” she said.

She stressed the validity of the visas was however different from the duration of stay. Thus, the allowable duration of stay of a visa holder who enters the US, prior to the one-month visa expiration date, will not be affected.

Current visa holders, student visa applicants, Ghanaian government officials travelling for official duties as well as participants in official US government exchange programmes, are not currently affected.

“We hope to work closely together with Ghanaian authorities to resolve this issue properly. The US government will lift these limitations when the Ghanaian consulate in the US issue the required passports and demonstrate they can consistently provide timely issuance of documents for citizens going forward,” she said.

She warned that the scope of these limitations would include additional categories of people or discontinue additional types of visas if there was no progress in meeting the obligations in the coming months.

Responding to concerns of some of the deportees not being Ghanaian, she said it was the sovereign right of the Government of Ghana to verify their identities as Ghanaians.

She said the US would not force Ghana to take people who were proved to be non-Ghanaians.

“Both we and government of Ghana are eager to resolve this issue that has spanned two administrations both in Accra and Washington,” she said.

But the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration refuted claims saying “the sanctions imposed on Ghana are without any justification whatsoever.”

It held that it had “always cooperated with the US authorities in the processing and removal of Ghanaian citizens who have been cited for deportation.”

But the Ghana government has always had concerns over the verification of the purported Ghanaians earmarked for verification.

Ghana’s US embassy previously noted that the US was not providing enough documentation to show that the intended deportees were indeed, Ghanaian.

“All countries undertake these processes to accept their deported citizens from all over the world and it is not peculiar to Ghana and the US,” the ministry reminded.

The ministry added that Ghana’s mission in Washington has received 28 application from the US out of which 19 have been interviewed by the embassy and 11 traveling certificates issued for their travel to Ghana.

The remaining persons are “as a result of doubts on their Ghanaian nationality, ill health and pending litigation in US courts.”

Though the US has said 7000 persons are engaged in deportation proceedings, the ministry also said: “there has not been any confirmation by the US authorities of a final court order for their removal in accordance with the US’ own laws.”

The statement also highlighted concerns with the ill-treatment of Ghanaian citizens deported to Ghana from US, which runs contrary to international statutes.

“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.”

There were reports that a batch of deportees in 2017 were handcuffed and forced aboard the plane to Ghana, though the US Embassy denied that any inhumane treatment took place.

Former US ambassador to Ghana Robert Jackson was once invited by the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament to give clarity on reported ill-treatment of deportees

The Ministry concluded by saying it would institute appropriate measures within the context of international law and bilateral relations.

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