By Sanna Camara
A German civic helper group for Gambian migrants in the Baden Württemberg town “Breisach” has said it confirmed from authorities that in the night of 18th to 19th November, at least 20 Gambians living in Germany were deported to The Gambia.
However, the group said authorities in Germany maintain that all the deportees to The Gambia were already convicted by law courts of Germany for various crimes.
“We have very concrete evidence that all the deportees were convicted of criminal offences, in particular for assault, drug charges, theft, sexual assault, rape and damage to property (in order of frequency),” a statement from the group said.
The group, referred to as the “Gambia Helpers Network” has been outspoken for Gambian migrant community. They refer to themselves as a platform for full-time and honorary supporters of Gambian refugees with over 500 members – comprising employers, private individuals and groups who are concerned about migrant and refugee issues.
Among other things, they were the co-authors of an open letter sent to The Gambia government a while back. In an informal exchange, the Network threw some light on the latest deportations.
“The deportation took place on both sides, German and Gambian, in the utmost secrecy.”
The group further argued that such secrecy is rather counterproductive: “It creates insecurity and panic reactions and leads to mistrust, especially towards the Gambian government,” it said, adding it leads to rumours that circulated in the run-up to the deportation.
Under German laws, anyone convicted of a criminal act is usually put on top of deportation lists by the German authorities.
This group was able to acquire references and a complete list (including the crimes committed) of the 22 deported Gambians.
“All the 22 deportees were ‘real’ crimes and not misdemeanors. And most of them had several offences, including theft, assault, aggravated assault, sexual assault, rape and a great many drug offences.”
In August 2019, two refugee support groups, Flüchtlingsrat Baden-Württemberg (Refugee Council Baden-Württemberg), a non-profit organization that advises refugees and advocates for their rights and The Gambia Helfernetz (Gambia Helpers Network), wrote to President Adama Barrow and Mariam Denton, the Speaker of the National Assembly to call their attention to the plights of Gambian refugees.
The groups disputed the claim of the German government that it is only deporting those found in conflict with the law.
Meanwhile, The Gambia government dispatched a delegation to Germany last year, comprising Foreign Minister, Dr Mamadou Tangara, and other state officials.
Following their return, a comprehensive report was prepared and submitted to the Office of the President. The delegation also had a meeting with the president to further brief him on the conclusion of the visit.
In his report to the National Assembly, Foreign Minister Tangara stated that the German Minister of Interior confirmed 15,534 Gambians in Germany as of 31st of December 2019, out of which 4,837 are required to leave Germany.
Meanwhile, 4,271 Gambians have their deportation temporarily suspended. Some 4,837 are required to leave Germany.
The deportees from a week ago were from Batenwuttenberg, where 25 Gambians were serving sentences for criminal offences.