By Omar Bah
The ministers of foreign affairs and the interior on Friday clashed at the National Assembly over a “deportation agreement” signed between the Ministry for the Interior and Baden-Württemberg, a state in southwest Germany bordering France and Switzerland.
The Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs on Friday invited VP Isatou Touray, ministers Mamadou Tangara of foreign affairs and Yankuba Sonko of the Interior to provide updates on the response of the government to the situation of Gambians being deported from Germany as well as those awaiting deportation.
The lawmakers wanted specific answers on the first 25 and second 20 undocumented Gambians deported from Germany.
Responding to the lawmakers, Minister Tangara said: “When it comes to the first 25, that was a condition laid by the Germans before they started supporting us but the other 20 that came we didn’t know how they came because the mission in Brussels covering Germany was not aware of it. I think I heard it here so we didn’t know how they came into the country and where they are.
“…[A]nd as far as the discussion on migration is concerned, we have to make a difference between the Good Practice Document and the bilateral agreement with Germany and there we have to speak with one voice. I think that is very important and that’s why when the 20 came, we all could have been in the picture but that didn’t happen,” he said.
Minister Tangara said a deal was entered between the Ministry for the Interior and Baden-Württemberg without the knowledge of his ministry.
“To my surprise, I have seen that an agreement was entered between Baden-Württemberg and the Ministry of Interior. I don’t know whether you saw it. I have the document I can give it to you,” he posted, referring to the Minister of Interior.
That prompted the Minister for the Interior to intervene to ask Mr Tangara who was the minister for the interior at the time the agreement was signed?
Tangara responded: “You were the minister”.
Minister Sonko further posted: “But I didn’t remember signing it.”
But Tangara swiftly responded: “It was not signed by you because I have seen that document”.
Minister Tangara further revealed that two immigration liaison officers are stationed in Germany and Italy who are issuing travelling documents without the knowledge of The Gambia’s mission in Brussels.
“We should also know who gave those migrants, documents to be able to come back because Germany doesn’t have the right to bundle them just like that and put them into a plane and I know certainly our mission didn’t give them the documents,” he said.
Minister Sonko admitted that immigration officers were in Italy.
The vice president tried to intervene on several occasions to bring an end to the exchanges.