Ghana hit with US visa sanctions over non-cooperation in deportation of Ghanaians

Ghana has been hit with visa sanctions by the United States of America for its purported lack of cooperation in accepting Ghanaians deported from the US.

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has ordered embassy officers in Ghana to implement the visa restrictions on certain categories of visa applicants, according to a US Department of Homeland Security statement.

The categories of applicants to be affected are not elaborated on in the statement.
“Pursuant to her authority under Section 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen notified Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the Government of Ghana has denied or unreasonably delayed accepting their nationals ordered removed from the United States,” the statement explained.

In addition, the statement warned that Ghana faced more sanctions if the government’s posture did not change.

“Without an appropriate response from Ghana, the scope of these sanctions may be expanded to a wider population. The sanctions will remain in place until the Secretary of Homeland Security notifies Secretary Pompeo that cooperation on removals has improved to an acceptable level.”

The Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, is quoted as saying “Ghana has failed to live up to its obligations under international law to accept the return of its nationals ordered removed from the United States.”

“The United States routinely cooperates with foreign governments in documenting and accepting U.S. citizens when asked, as appropriate, as do the majority of countries in the world, but Ghana has failed to do so in this case. We hope the Ghanaian government will work with us to reconcile these deficiencies quickly,” she added.

Background

Indications from as far back as 2017 indicated that 7,000 Ghanaians were facing deportation.

The then-US ambassador to Ghana, Robert P. Jackson, said the 7,000 were guilty of various immigration offences and had abused the terms of their visas.

At the time, he said the Ghanaians were at different stages of the deportation process.

The Government was at the time also concerned with reports of the ill-treatment of Ghanaians deported by the US government.

Robert Jackson was invited by the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament to give clarity on reported ill-treatment of deportees.

There were reports that a batch of deportees in 2017 were handcuffed and forced aboard the plane to Ghana, though the US Embassy denied that any inhumane treatment took place.

Ghana’s Ambassador to the US, Dr. Barfuor Adjei-Bawuah, had also suggested that he was under pressure from US authorities to sanction the deportation of Ghanaians.

Those revelations came amid accusations that the US was trying to bully Ghana by threatening visa restrictions.

Robert Jackson retorted that the US was only seeking to enforce its immigration rules and not to threaten Ghana with visa restrictions.

He said the US just wanted the government to speed up the process for issuing travel documents to the Ghanaians scheduled for deportation.