The unsightly deportation of some 63 Ghanaians from the United States on Wednesday, this week, which had seen the deportees touch down at the Kotoka International Airport, chained like animals, came right on the heels of President Akufo-Addo’s visitation to the US.
By simple count, the humiliating deportation came just five days after Nana Akufo-Addo had attended the UN Oceans Conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, which closed last Friday, June 9.
The close subsequence of the humiliating eviction of Ghanaians from the same country, which had hosted the President less than a week ago, has left questions in the air.
Many are wondering whether the President had intentionally neglected to do his duty as Ghana’s Chief Diplomat or had just forgotten to, while in the US.
Interestingly, President Akufo-Addo had attended the Oceans Conference in the company of Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway.
With the deportation coming so close on the heels of the visit, observers are wondering whether the Ghana Embassy in the US made any efforts to brief the President’s entourage about the impending deportations.
The 63 deportees, all males, had touched down on a special flight, with some in chains and others in handcuffs. Some of them have since told horrific stories of being in detention for a long time before the deportations.
As the humiliation comes just on the heels of President Akufo-Addo’s visitation, it has since become symbolic of the disrespect that the US has for Ghana. Already, US Ambassador, Robert Jackson, has made it clear that the US does not regret the deportation of Ghanaians.
In April, this year, he said in the Brong Ahafo Region that up to 7,000 Ghanaians would be deported from the US and he did not sympathize with them. His biting words had come a few months after 103 Ghanaians had been similarly deported from the US, in chains, in October, last year.
The latest deportation, which comes after all that has already happened, casts President Akufo-Addo in the awkward light of an “I-don’t-care” leader who did not use his diplomatic cachet to demand better treatment of Ghanaian citizens while in the US.
Along with the President in this awkward light is his Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, who is already on record to have goofed badly and betrayed cluelessness about ECOWAS protocols when she claimed a few days ago that ECOWAS does not elect its chairpersons.
The inhumanness of the deportation has since evoked public anger in Ghana. Among the unhappy lot is Ghana’s former High Commissioner to India, Samuel Panyin Yalley.
Mr. Yalley, a human rights lawyer, has questioned why the US authorities would still keep the Ghanaian deportees in chains after the plane that they had been deported on had left the soils of the US.
On Accra-based “Radio Gold,” he pointed out that the Ghanaian deportees were only illegal expatriates of the US and so once they departed the territorial integrity of the US, nobody had the right to treat them like criminals.
Lawyer Yalley has since questioned the sense of duty of the Ghana diplomatic mission in the US, expressing surprise that Ghana has an embassy in the US and yet Ghanaians are treated the way the 63 were treated.
Interestingly, the discontent of Lawyer Yalley was shared by one of two Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Charles Owiredu, who had told “Radio Gold” that a meeting had been scheduled with the US Ambassador to Ghana, Robert P. Jackson, yesterday morning, and that in that meeting the humiliating treatment meted out to the Ghanaian deportees would be protested.
In a related development, 3news.com also reports that some of 63 Ghanaians who were deported to Ghana are claiming they were treated like criminals upon their arrest in the United States where they were put in jail with hardened criminals for at least a year.
Some of them say they were in prison custody for 18 months without any charge until their eventual deportation to Accra on Wednesday.
The deportees, all men, were handcuffed as they disembarked from the chartered Delta Airline Flight from the US.
Most of them had no belongings while those with little goods were wrapped in rubber sacks with some holding bread and pastries that they were served in the flight.
Each was given GH¢100 for transportation from Accra to their various destinations.
They were screened by the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO), the Ghana Immigration Service and the Ghana Police Service before they left the Airport.
Although they admitted going to the US illegally, they handed themselves to authorities on arrival but as refugees.
According to some of them, they were handcuffed and sent to prison for eighteen months.
Others claim they were arrested on the streets of US and sent to prisons without any charges, and while there, they were served with food meant for dogs and pigs.
One of the deportees, Richmond Acheampong, on Thursday recounted what he termed as horrific tribulations that he and others suffered while awaiting deportation to Ghana.
Speaking on Onua FM’s Yen Nsem Pa Thursday, he said he spent over a year moving from one prison cell to the other when he was picked up by immigration authorities.
“I was first detained in Mexico where I spent 14 days in prison before I was allowed to go. Then I later moved to U.S to seek for asylum but I was picked and handed over to the immigration officials there and I was detained at the Alabama prison which is akin to a jail cell. The place was very bad,” Acheampong narrated.
He said he lost a court case at Washington where he spent eight months in prison, adding he was transferred to Indiana where he spent six months and later to Arizona for a week.
Prior to embarking on the journey to seek greener pastures, the 42-year-old man who is married with two kids worked as electrical appliance mechanic in Ghana.
He said he spent over 3,000 dollars from Brazil to US.
He told Onua FM that he has learnt lessons from this harrowing experience but says “I’m not perturbed, because in this life everyone and what has been destined for him. Some would go there and make it while others may go and not make it.”
Acheampong advised those wishing to embark on such journeys to make sure they acquire all necessary documents, indicating that the U.S is a nice place to live only if one has the right documents.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/ Fiifi Samuels