The United States government, has withdrawn protocol visa allocation to top Ghanaian government officials, including Members of Parliament (MP) and former Presidents Jerry Rawlings, John Agyekum Kufuor and John Dramani Mahama on non-official visits.
All diplomatic courtesies accorded them, appeared withdrawn henceforth and per the directive, they only have the option of booking a private appointment or join the queue of countless Ghanaians, who seek US visas on a daily basis.
It is unclear, what the government of Ghana, is likely to do about the situation. Already it has been powerless over the maltreatment of Ghanaian deportees, some of whom were chained and handcuffed throughout the long journey back home.
Explaining his outfit’s position to members of the Foreign Affairs Committee after an earlier letter informing Parliament about the decision, Mr Jackson said: “As for the protocol, normally if you are applying for official travel there is no personal appearance required so there is no reason for your parliamentary protocol officer to come to the Embassy whatever. The normal channel will be for him to pass the visas and passport to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, and their protocol people will be permitted to come to the Embassy, and we will do everything we can to process those visas within 48 hours of receipt. If you are travelling for tourism or business that is not related to government business, you will be required to make a personal appearance even with former Presidents. There are no exceptions.”
This directive, follows a similar position taken by the United Kingdom (UK) High Commission on the issuance of visas for personal visits after some four Members of Parliament (MPs), were alleged to have engaged in visa fraud.
When the scandal broke, the British High Commission, informed the Speaker of Parliament that it “Will henceforth only entertain and prioritize requests for visas from MPs, if they are made through the parliamentary protocol office who should verify that there is an official, parliamentary reason for the proposed visit.” Adding, however, that “MPs wishing to make private visits to the UK or to be accompanied on official visits by non-official relatives must apply online and through our Visa Application Centre at the Movenpick Hotel like any other applicant”
Ambassador Jackson, also justified why 63 Ghanaian deportees, were handcuffed on their way back home, insisting that it did not amount to any form of inhumane treatment.
“The 63, who returned recently, arrived in a chartered flight, refused to board a civilian aircraft and return voluntarily. I do not consider the conditions under which they were returned inhumane. They were fed, they had some freedom of movement on the flight. It is not as if they were chained to their seats,” he said. The Ambassador added that “It is true that 7,000 Ghanaians, who have overstayed their visas or are staying in the US illegally are in various stages of the deportation processes. There will be additional deportations, because the 7,000 people, who are under deportation orders have either committed crimes in the United States or long overstayed the visas on which they entered.”
In November 2016, 108 Ghanaians, were also deported. It is unclear if the recent deportation is as a result of the immigration policy of current US President, Donald Trump.
Robert Jackson, has said that the USwas opened to receive Ghanaians, who enter the country and reside legally. He said tens of thousands of Ghanaians, are currently in the US working legally and face no threat of deportation.
Meanwhile, Ghana’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, has told Citi News, she has commenced discussions with the US Department of State on the treatment meted out to those Ghanaians.
She further expressed the hope that, such a development would not reoccur, saying “We know what they encountered. We hope that if there is another deportation they will be treated well,” the Minister added.