By Omar Bah
The Office of the Inspector General of Police has denied permit to a group backed by the Gambia Refugees Association – Europe branch to stage a peaceful protest against the deportation of Gambian migrants.
Hundreds of Gambian migrants have been deported over the past four years mainly from Germany under the “good practice document” signed by the Gambia government and the European Union to accept the deportation of Gambians from Germany.
Overall, Germany intends to deport at least 4,000 Gambians whose asylum claims were rejected. In the German region of Baden Württemberg alone, there are over 15,000 registered Gambian asylum seekers of whom, at least 4,000 have been rejected.
Concerned about the trend of deportations, the Gambia Refugees Association – Europe Branch in collaboration with the Concerned Gambian Group in The Gambia sought permission from the police to protest against the deportations.
In a letter signed by AIG Ebrima Bah, the police said they cannot grant the group’s permit because the date they intend to hold the protest falls within the Covid-19 restriction period.
But in a protest letter shared with The Standard, the Gambia Refugees Association said: “We write to express dismay at the decision of the Gambia Police Force for denying us a permit to hold a peaceful protest in wake of recent deportations especially from Germany.”
The group said they applied for the permit since 27th January 2021 but they only received a reply on 31st March 2021 from the police.
“Our position is that the Covid-19 restrictions are not being respected and are not implemented. The Government of Adama Barrow cannot use the police to deter us from protesting when they are the first to violate the restrictions. This is unfair as we have seen them granting permit to political parties to hold rallies, tours, congresses, meetings, etc including the president’s party. Also, the police have granted permit to musicians to launch their albums as recent as on 9th April amidst the Covid-19 pandemic,” the group argued
It added: “If the police were serious, they would have advised the government to tell the European Union to stop deportations due to the Covid-19 restrictions.
“Therefore, we are calling on all political party leaders to support us in this course and tell the government and the police the truth. Let the police issue us a permit or else we will do our peaceful protest without permit as guaranteed by the Constitution. We will not announce the date of protest but we will organize among ourselves and do the peaceful protest anytime from now if they refuse to issue us a permit.”