Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 February 2020:
The National Coordinator of the Network of Ex-Asylum Seekers – Mr Abdulai Daramy, today urged the government of Sierra Leone to resist the arbitrary deportation of ex-asylum seekers and refugees from the United States of America (USA) and some European countries to Sierra Leone.
He said that such deportations are in contravention of the 1961 UN Convention. The 1967 protocol and the African Union, UN and the Geneva Convention on Human Rights.
Speaking at a press conference held at the Network of Ex-Asylum Seekers’ headquarters situated at No 54 Wellington Street in Freetown, the coordinator revealed that since the organization was established in 2011 and registered in 2015 as an advocacy network for the rights of deportees which campaigns for the enactment of a deportation Law or Policy that will enhance the reintegration of Sierra Leoneans refugees in society and ensure their Socio-Economic Security, NEAS has rescued 175 deportees from stress and stigmatization of deportation.
Daramy said that since August 2019, when the USA deported many individuals to Sierra Leone, four deportees have since died due to frustration, despite counselling; twenty others are undergoing medical care in mental homes; while others could not be traced by their respective families, as they are constantly moving around the city’s streets aimlessly, suffering from some form of mental disorder.
He commended Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the United States and Canada – Ambassador Sidique Wai for his statement published on 25th January 2020, in which he committed to change the deportation policy and process.
Addressing the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other enforcement custody agencies, he said that deportees to Sierra must present a Sierra Leonean Passport and Birth Certificate before issuance of the Emergency Travelling Certificate to avoid deportation of Non-nationals.
The U.S. Department Immigration Officials must provide a valid deportation order from a U.S. Judge, Certifying that all legal remedies entitled the deportee under U.S Law has been certified, he said.
Furthermore, he said that NEAS is concerned about the unlawful imprisonment, coercion, terrorization, torture, etc that are common practices used during deportation by not only the United States but most other Western Countries forcefully removing migrants.
NEAS regards this poor treatment as unacceptable and therefore wants to take this opportunity to call on the government of Sierra Leone through the Foreign Ministry, to take steps to ensure that the rights of Sierra Leonean asylum seekers and deportees are respected and protected.
Writing today on his tweeter feed, BBC reporter – Umaru Fofanah said: “I am appalled that an official press release from Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs can contain such falsehood about the two deportees from the US who were brought to the country on emergency travel certificates they refused to sign because they insisted and maintain they’re NOT from here!! I’ll ignore the other controvertible areas of the press release but not the last sentence which reads: ‘Meanwhile…Essential items, accommodation and food have also been provided to both of them [by the ministry]’.
“I spent much of yesterday and today trying to get the two men back under a roof. Reason: they were locked out because the ministry had abandoned them and failed to pay their hotel bills almost since they were checked in on 1 February when they left a police cell.
“Thanks to an anonymous businessman, I paid their arrears of Le 8,700,000 today. The ministry had only paid for them for three nights. I also paid for them for 10 nights in advance starting tonight. I gave them money for food because the Le 25,000 the ministry promised them was not only inadequate but apparently not forthcoming. I doubled that amount. I also gave them money for clothes because since I started working on their story I almost always saw them in the same clothes..”