HRCSL expresses grave concern over foreigners illegally deported to Sierra Leone by the US

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 January 2020:

On Wednesday, 14th August, 2019, a group of sixteen people arrived at Lungi Airport in Freetown as deportees from the US. According to Sierra Leone Police spokesman, they were deported for alleged criminal and other immigration-related offences.

The sixteen deportees who comprised of 15 men and one woman, were held at the Headquarters of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in Freetown for several days while they were being screened and processed.

According to the police in Freetown, some of the deportees are not Sierra Leonean passport holders.

At least one of the deportees at that time told officers that he had been deported without going through due legal process in the US – an allegation the US Embassy in Freetown denied.

A US Embassy official in Freetown told one reporter: “All the deportees were allowed to go through a legal process before issuing the Emergency Travel Certificates to leave the United States.”

But last week, two of the deportees named – Saren Idaho and Prince Artman Latayo, went on AYV TV to tell the government and people of Sierra Leone that they are foreign nationals deliberately deported by the US authorities to Sierra Leone to avoid due legal process in the US.

Watch the AYV Clip here: 

Both are protesting that they are now living against their will and in serious distress in Sierra Leone, where they have no relatives or social connections. They have become stateless.

The two foreigners simply want the Sierra Leone authorities to deport them back to the US. But the difficulty for the government of Sierra Leone is that in desperation to raise revenue, they had received payments from the US government in return for receiving the deportees.

Yesterday, Tuesday, January 28th, the Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone(HRCSL) – Patricia Narsu Ndanema, told officials of the Criminal Investigations Department in Freetown that ‘Statelessness is a human rights concern’.

Patricia Narsu Ndanema was speaking at a meeting with the  Head of CID,  John K. Alpha, Supervisor of Violent Crimes, M.K Alieu, ASP L.A Sana Vandi and the two foreign deportees.

“As an institution mandated to protect and promote Human Rights in Sierra Leone, the Commission is investigating to see what we can do with regards the deportees, as statelessness is a very serious human rights issue” she said.

Saren Idaho and Prince Artman Latayo, strongly protested to the Human Rights chief, that they were wrongfully deported to Sierra Leone, as they are not Sierra Leoneans.

They said they were brought to the country on August 14th 2019 on the  allegation  that they had Sierra Leonean travel documents. But the deportees said they were not given Sierra Leonean travel documents but received travel certificate when they arrived in Sierra Leone.

The Human Rights chief said she is interested in knowing what has been done so far by the CID about their plight, and what further could be done to ease their suffering and have them returned back to the US.

She said that the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness are the key international conventions addressing statelessness. They are complemented by international human rights treaties and provisions relevant to the right to a nationality.

Between 2011 and 2015, there were 49 accessions to the two Conventions on Statelessness – an increase that will lead to more action to protect stateless people, resolve their predicament and prevent new cases.

In another related development, the Sierra Leone Ambassador to USA – Sidique Wai, last week said that when he assumed office after the 12th September 2019,  Emergency Travel Certificate (ETC) arrangements for the deportation of the two foreigners had already been made.

He said that going forward, appropriate steps have been taken to address these unfortunate situations. While working with US immigration enforcement officers in line with US laws, he equally called upon US authorities to respect the laws of Sierra Leone.

He said that the following policy changes have now been made to avoid a repetition of what happened to the two foreigners deported to Sierra Leone:

1. Anyone perceived to be a Sierra Leonean that is facing deportation and held in US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other enforcement custody must present a Sierra Leone Passport and birth certificate to the Embassy before issuance of an Emergency Travel Certificate (ETC).

2. The US enforcement agency and official requesting the ETC must provide a valid deportation order from a US judge certifying that all legal remedies entitled the deportee under US law have been satisfied.

3. A Sierra Leone Embassy official must conduct a personal interview with the alleged deportee to prove that the individual is a bona fide Sierra Leonean.

4. All information collected will be submitted to immigration officials in Sierra Leone for proper vetting and authentication of the documents submitted prior to the Embassy issuance of an ETC to facilitate travel to Sierra Leone.

5. Advance notification provided to Sierra Leone authorities of arrival of deportee before departure to Sierra Leone.

The Ambassador said they have and will continue to refine  protocols to ensure that fairness and legal procedures are strictly adhered to prior to deportation to Sierra Leone.

Ambassador Wai said he was recently interviewed by Reuters news organization regarding a new set of travel ban directed at several countries in Africa, including Sierra Leone by the US government. He said he will continue to engage both the US State Department and ICE to lift the travel ban on Sierra Leone.

In the meantime there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight to the miserable miscarriage of justice and abuse of human rights inflicted on the two foreign nationals now forced to live in Sierra Leone against their will and with no social connections, no money and no job.

5 Comments

  1. The United States,that was once considered a beacon of light to a world miserably shackled, and chained in corrupt attitudes, and lawless indiscretions,has now also flipped like a coin, leading the pack of ravaging wolves,wearing mantles of shame,and disgrace.Sad times indeed! A country known to many as the Land of the Free,and Home of the brave,now has a questionable, hatemongering leader that is currently facing an impeachment trial,and his subordinates in government are all following in his shady,evil,crooked ways.

    Remember,the words of the Great Confucius;”A leader is like the wind,and his people are like grass?” Since Donald Trump assumed office,and took over the reins of power,Immigration authorities, have gone haywire,working overtime to swiftly bring the President’s discriminatory,and shocking prejudicial policies against migrants into fruition.Now here’s what’s real: The US lacks a credible,consistent legal framework for dealing with Stateless Persons,and therefore are unfamiliar with addressing their specific political, social, and economic needs,so they treat them like other non US Citizens,with the same indignity,and disrespect.

    The words of the two foreign deportees are another example of Americas blatant disregard for the rights of individuals as declared by the tenets,and provisions of international law. Donald Trump has let the world know,through his utterances, that he has no respect,or regard for foreigners whatsoever,neither does his racist buddies, serving in his government. The government of Sierra Leone is a shameless,regressive entity.

    I mean seriously, all we are hearing are one silly mistake after the other. How on earth does anyone in the right minds, decide it is right to accept leftovers,crumbs,and peanuts in exchange for the sovereignty of their country of birth?What a disgraceful thing!

    The two foreign deportees should be sent back to the United States,ASAP for adequate,and proper processing,and assessment.Let the notorious SLPP government use the 1.5 million dollars,bribery money,safely tucked away in ECO bank to buy them first class return tickets, again to the US without any further feet dragging,or delay(lol)…Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  2. These two guys are no saints. They desperately want to live in the United States. Why didn’t they launch the same protest they are now launching to the US government before they were deported to Sierra Leone?

    • Mr. Coleman, with all due respect; the 2 deportees are only asking to be sent to their home country my brother, nothing else; don’t you think that is what should have happened? Obviously, none of them is claiming to be a saint or innocent. We all know that for anyone to be deported from a foreign country, that individual must have done something criminal; so that is not event a point of contention.

      We are all imperfect beings, so it is necessary to sometimes look at things in a humanity perspective. You being a foreigner at the moment, I am sure you will not want to be in this same predicament. In the age of Trump, one does not need to be a high profile criminal to be deported. So let’s keep that in mind.

      If the Sierra Leone government had done its due diligent like their counterparts (Senegal, Kenya and Nigeria), where these guys where first sent but denied entry, none of these will have come up. All deportees are told they will be sent back to their country of origin, so how exactly do you expect these guys to have protested that sir? So please sir, let’s stick with the facts.

  3. I was just scratching my head to figure out what went terribly wrong with the deportation protocols of these two men from the US. More information from the US will shed light as to what happened. Secondly, why did the Sierra Leone government keep these two men for so long without alerting the US embassy in Freetown about the deportation anomaly? Thirdly, were these gentlemen living in the US with Sierra Leonean passport/nationality? I remember the scandal surrounding the sale of Sierra Leonean passports during the NPRC era worldwide. Terrible!

    Can’t the government of Sierra Leone help these individuals with food, clothing, housing, health, etc? These are human beings like us. Sierra Leoneans are compassionate people and I believe our government to be compassionate too. All I would say is this – The government of Sierra Leone should grant these two men refugee status whilst at the same time engaging with the US through their embassy to sort out this terrible error. I believe, the US, will help these two men return to the US or their countries of origin if an error has been made. But, the Sierra Leone government has to start the process and channel it to the US authorities.

    God bless and help these two stranded men in Sierra Leone.

  4. Incredible!! I couldn’t imagine being in the same predicaments as these 2 deportees. I mean, how do the authorities misidentified these individuals? Listening to their West Indian accent, it does not take a rocket scientist much to see that these men are not from the African continent. This is definitely a huge embarrassment for our nation. We are so cash strapped and desperate, we have literally become a dumping ground.

    The irony of all these is that, we have regime officials who perambulate around touting their academic credentials as highly educated and knowing everything. We are witnessing ineptitude at the highest degree. So so shameful things dem na dem we dae yeri about we country, me r tire sef.

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