By Tabora Bojang
The chairperson of the National Assembly standing committee on foreign affairs has said that the much-talked about migration deal reportedly signed between the governments of The Gambia and Switzerland cannot be implemented unless approved by the parliament
The Gambia government last week issued a statement that the two governments have signed a cooperation agreement on migration matters in Berne meant to curb irregular migration and ensure “effective protection of the rights of Gambian citizens” who are migrants in Switzerland.
The Swiss government in a prior statement released on January 13th announced an ‘operational’ cooperation with The Gambia which among others covers issues relating to the practical organisation of returnees, such as identification and the issuing of replacement documents, saying a similar migration deal was also concluded with eight other African countries.
But according to the Wuli West lawmaker, who led a parliamentary delegation to Germany last year on finding a lasting solution to the problems faced by Gambian asylum seekers, any deal signed for and on behalf of the people of the Gambia must be scrutinized and approved by the parliament before being implemented.
“Otherwise, it [the agreement] cannot stand. Since it is yet to be brought before us, that is what the law states and it has always been the procedure. This is a parliament and we don’t act on speculations,” Jatta added.
The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Saikou Ceesay said the process of tabling the deal before the National Assembly has commenced but he could not state the time frame.
“I cannot give you the time frame; all I know is that the process has started and due process will be followed,” Ceesay told The Standard.
He said the very reason why the government signed such a deal is to “fight irregular migration, by creating and maximizing opportunities for the youths to earn a dignified living without risking their lives in the sea. “It would create opportunities by establishing a multi skills training centre for the youths, where they will be skilled in order for them to earn a dignified living in The Gambia. This government is of the belief that deportation will not solve migration. It has to be a cooperation and in foreign policy, this deal falls under secondary interest and that means we have to collaborate with our bilateral partners to achieve our targets,” Ceesay added.