By: Kebba AF Touray
Gambia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Mamadou Tangara, has told Gambian lawmakers that deportation is not the solution, but rather countries should work on measures that will help them deal with the menace of migration efficiently.
Minister Tangara was responding to a parliamentary question put to him by member for Wuli East, Honorable SuwaibouTouray.
Member for Wuli East, Honorable SuwaibouTouray asked the Minister to state whether his Ministry would consider entering into agreements concerning migrant workers as well as bilateral agreement and MoU allowing low skilled workers.
He said the reason the Gambian people are mostly migrating to Europe, Germany and other countries in Europe for labour motives is because of the unfavorable economic and social conditions in their own home country.
The Wuli East NAM told Minister Tangara that these people normally do not intend to permanently live there but to simply work, earn something and come back to their country.
Foreign Affairs Minister Tangara, in reply, said they are aware of the fact that migration is part and parcel of human life and their partners acknowledge that migration is a fundamental right to individuals.
“So, the solution is not deportation, but to work on measures that will help us deal with the menace of migration efficiently. In relation to that, at the invitation of the Spanish Foreign Minister, I went to Spain and engaged them on an agreement for seasonal migration, and I put it to them that some of them don’t want to stay in Europe, they just want to come to Europe, make some money and go back home,” said Minister Tangara.
He added that they are also engaging the Government of Italy on this type of agreement because he knows that they have similar agreements with other countries.
Parliamentarian for Kiang West, Hon Lamin Ceesay asked the minister to explain what his ministry is doing to stop indiscriminate deportation of Gambians.
Foreign Affairs Minister Tangara said when one has exhausted all the legal remedy for one to stay in a country, that person stands a chance of being deported.
He said the only thing they can do is to see how best they can negotiate and engage the authorities in those countries to see how they can regularize the status of Gambians, who have stayed in those countries and have not committed any crime in those countries.
He added, “We are also duty bound by international law that when it is established that you are a Gambian and you have all the documentary evidence, we cannot refuse you to come back to the country because we cannot render our citizens stateless.”
Member for Busumbala, Hon. Muhammed Kanteh, on behalf of the Janjanbureh lawmaker, asked the Minister to provide the assembly with an update on the signed agreement document between the Gambia Government and the German Government.
Minister Tangara updated that bilateral relations between the two governments have improved ever since the change of government in 2017, and has been manifested by the Gambia by visiting the President of Germany in December, 2017.
He stated further that it is also manifested by the opening of the German Embassy in the Gambia in May 2023, with a Gambian Embassy in Berlin expected to open soon.
“I would like to clarify that the Government of the Gambia has not signed any bilateral agreements with the Government of Germany concerning any sector or on any subject area and the Ministry is not aware of any such agreements between the two states,” he clarified.
At this juncture, the Minister sought that the Honorable Member specifically states the exact agreement document he was referring to, citing the sector and areas the said document covers.
At this stage, the Member for Busumbala, asked the Minister to state the agreement document that led to the deportation of Gambians.
The Minister explained that the document that led to the deportation of Gambians was a document agreed upon by the Gambia Government and the European Union in 2018, and that is part of a migration program when the first time the European Union came to the Gambia following the change of Government in 2016.
“It was agreed upon in 2018 and is between the Gambia and the European Union not with the Federal Republic of Germany,” He clarified.
Honorable Kanteh further asked the Minister, “Do we have this agreement signed?
The Minister replied it was not an agreement, but an MoU and the message conveying our agreement with the said arrangements were forwarded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2018.
Member for Lower Fulladou West, Hon. Gibbi Mballow, asked the Minister to state who exactly signed the MoU, that has caused the deportation of a lot of Gambians back in 2018.
Minister Tangara replied: “It is easy to verify who the Foreign Minister was in 2018, and besides government continuity when you come if it is signed by another person, you have to continue, but it is easy to verify who the Foreign Affairs Minister was in 2018.”