By Omar Bah
The Minister of Interior Mai Ahmad Fatty has said that the President Adama Barrow-led government may consider accepting the repatriation of Gambian migrants from the EU if there are genuine reasons to do so.
He said though the Gambia government has not signed any agreement with any country to repatriate its citizens they may consider doing so if there is the need.
“Our discussion with the EU is that we are willing to dialogue on the issue; we have to find a sustainable solution to migration issue. The Gambia government has not signed any agreement with any country to repatriate our citizens. Rather, what we require from countries—individual European countries and the EU as a bloc is—before these Gambians are deported we want to know what crimes they have committed in Europe, we want to know whether these Gambians have been subjected to fair and impartial judicial processes, we want to know whether Gambians have exhausted their legal remedies in these countries. When all this is completed, we want to get a comprehensive report and profiling so that we will be able to readmit our citizens back home,” he told state TV GRTS recently.
He said all these will be done within the confines of the law and international best practices. He added that The Gambia equally deports other nationals.
“We have to remember that we also deport non-Gambians if they violate our laws. We put them before the courts, if they serve their prison sentences and they are deportable, we send them out of this country. All countries are involved in that. If our nationals, if they go through the judicial system and the system rejects them to leave their country, we will be very happy to embrace them back home,” Minister Fatty said.
He revealed that the country has begun working on a migration policy which he said was never there.
“When this government took over, we didn’t find any policy on migration. We cannot talk about return, readmission and reintegration without a migration policy in place. So the Gambia must first develop a migration policy before we can talk about bringing our citizens home. The Gambia must prepare the house so that when our citizens who are Europe are not going be employed and facing massive suffering can return home; there will be something for them,” he noted.
He said government has just validated a country migration profile, “and out of this profile we will map out a new migration policy. First it is necessary to have this policy in place, then the implementation of this policy will require additional dialogue with Europeans.
“Gambians must realise that Gambian migrants are dying in the Sahara Desert, are dying in the Mediterranean Sea and many of them are not reaching their goals even when they get to Europe. Seventy percent of them have no documents to enable them to stay in Europe. Many of them are involved in illegal trades; narcotics trading, substance abuse. Many of them are in camps, in halfway houses where their rights are not even properly respected. So the dream to go to Europe and achieve something is fading massively. Some are running away from the police, so it is not a decent way of life,” he said.
He said no responsible government wants to see its citizens subjected to such circumstances.
“President Barrow is very concern about these things. He would like Gambians to have a dignified life wherever they are. So it is about time that we began to talk about legal migration to Europe and not just the focus on irregular migration because if you close the legal route people will find the irregular way which is called the ‘back-way’,” he added.