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Minister says deportation deal with EU went to Assembly by mistake

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By Tabora Bojang

The minister of foreign affairs Mamadou Tangara has stated that the deportation agreement between The Gambia and the European Union, the so-called Good Practice Document, was put on the National Assembly agenda without government’s request.

According to him, the document is not an international agreement but a memorandum of understanding and does not require the approval of lawmakers.

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The agreement was included in the list of items before the Assembly for its current session but when the minister appeared on the floor yesterday morning, he said government has not made any request of any approval from the Assembly and its inclusion in the agenda was a mistake made by the National Assembly. 

In response, the Speaker, Fabakary Tombong Jatta, claimed that the document was only meant for the consumption of NAMs based on the request they made to government.

“So, the Office of the Clerk thought it was sent for ratification but after reading the letter from MoFA it was realised that it was just sent for the NAMs’ consumption,” Jatta explained.

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Meanwhile, The Standard sought clarification from Minister Tangara who maintained that the document is an MoU and so there is no point bringing it before the National Assembly. ”This document was signed in 2018 before I assumed office and when I came, we looked at it and felt it was far from being a good practice document. So, we engaged our EU partners to re-negotiate it but they said we cannot re-negotiate something that is not implemented. So, as a result, we are even under a sanction for refusing to accept the repatriation of our citizens. Under international law we are obliged to accept our citizens if they have exhausted all legal remedies. We cannot render our citizens stateless. Migration is part of human history and you cannot stop it. What we need to do is to find concrete measures that will reduce it or help us deal with it properly. We cannot refuse to accept our citizens and Gambia also cannot afford to be under sanctions because of some Gambians who have violated the laws of the countries where they reside,” the minister said.

According to Minister Tangara, Gambia is now considered a democratic country and this limited the chances of Gambians to get asylum in Europe.

“In the past, they would say that Gambia is not a safe country, so you can easily get an asylum but today we are considered to be a democratic country where the rule of law is respected. So, we cannot have any excuse for refusing our citizens,” Tangara said.

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