Sixty Ghanaians were arrested and deported to Ghana from the United Kingdom (UK) for violating that country's immigration regulations between December 6, 2005 and January 6, this year.
Between 30 and 40 per cent of those deported were refused outright entry because the information they provided on arrival at the airport was incompatible with that provided during the interview at the British High Commission in Ghana. The stories some of them told were also not compatible with those of their hosts, while others panicked when they appeared before immigration officials.
The outgoing Ghana's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Mr Isaac Osei, made this known at the fifth Ghanaian Community Forum held in London last weekend.
The Ghanaian Community Forum has become a regular feature on the calendar of events of the High Commission and the Ghanaian community in the UK since Mr Osei assumed responsibility as the High Commissioner to the UK. The event provides the platform for the Ghanaian community to discuss matters of political, economic, social and development concern affecting Ghana.
This year's forum, which was addressed by the Foreign Minister, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, was on the theme, “Accelerating Development, Deepening Democracy”.
A minute's silence was observed by the thousands of Ghanaians from all over the UK who attended the forum for Ghanaians who lost their lives in the UK during the past year, including Mrs Gladys Ama Wundowa who was killed in a bomb attack on London in July last year.
Mr Osei said others were also arrested under various circumstances and at different locations, such as their homes, workplaces, in the streets, in buses, among others.
“In all situations, the UK immigration authorities informed the Ghana High Commission. Steps were taken by the commission to take consular steps to address the issues,” he said.
Mr Osei explained that there was no apparent deliberate target on Ghanaians by the UK immigration authorities but rather it was an ongoing exercise to smoke out illegal immigrants from the system.
He said in some cases the High Commission was able to stop the deportation of some legal Ghanaian immigrants when there was evidence from their legal consular.
“Others could not be helped because there was nothing to be done under the law,” he said. He, therefore, urged all Ghanaians residing in the UK to register with his office as required by directives to enable them to benefit from consular assistance when it was needed.
“Such registration is not meant for any election purposes, as some people and organisations would want you to believe, but in your own interest,” Mr Osei reiterated.
The High Commissioner announced that 1,400 Ghanaian passports had been returned from the Home Office to his office because immigration officials in the UK could not find the holders of the documents.
Mr Osei again stated that his office had received a number of cases of seizure of Ghanaian passports from third-party holders and large amounts of cash at the UK ports of entries and warned all citizens of Ghana not to travel with other people's passports on them.
He said apart from the fact that it was illegal, it cost the nation huge sums of money to print the passport, only for them to be confiscated.
Nana Akufo-Addo briefed the audience on developments which had taken place back home.
He said it was the duty of Parliament to pass the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill to enfranchise all Ghanaians living outside the country.
According to him, it was the view of the government that everybody should be part of the development process in the country and, therefore, be part of the decision and democratic process.
“Look at the immense contributions of our sons and daughters abroad. Take, for instance, Samuel Osei Kuffour and Michael Essien; we want them to play on our behalf in the World Cup but we do not want them to exercise their franchise,” he lamented.