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Ghana risks U.S. visa restrictions for non-compliance of ICAO obligations

The Public Affairs department of the U.S Embassy in Ghana has issued a strongly-worded statement warning Ghanaian officials of possible visa restrictions on Ghanaians because Ghana has consistently failed to issue travel documents to citizens awaiting deportation from the U.S.

“When the Government of Ghana falls to meet its ICAO [International Civil Aviation Organisation] obligation regarding the regular issuance of travel documents, the U.S. government is forced to employ charter flights for deportations. The Government of Ghana has the power to reduce, or even end, the use of charter flights by meeting Its obligation to issue travel documents in a timely manner,” the statement from the U.S Embassy in Ghana explained in part.

The statement explained further that in December 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) identified Ghana as being at risk of non-compliance on removals of those under deportation orders and since then, the U.S. government has repeatedly engaged the Government of Ghana in both Washington, D.C., and Accra and has urged the government to abide by its international obligations and issue the necessary travel documents so that Ghanaians under deportation orders may depart the United States on commercial flights.

“If Ghana fails to comply with international obligations regarding the issuance of travel documents, the United States may be forced to begin implementing visa restrictions on Ghana, in accordance with U.S. law,” the statement said.

The U.S. Embassy has urged Ghanaians to abide by legal processes if they seek to immigrate to the United States.

What U.S. visa restrictions will mean to Ghanaians

Under U.S. federal law, all or specific types of visas can be stopped from being issued to nations under visa restrictions.

The U.S. may stop issuing business and tourism visas to Ghanaian nationals, with “limited exceptions.”

In September last year, the United States stopped issuing certain visas to Eritrean nationals and Guinean officials over the failure of the two African countries to take back citizens who have been deported.

The U.S. State Department is usually reluctant to impose visa sanctions because affected countries often retaliate through reciprocal restrictions on U.S. citizens and officials.

Guyana and Gambia were the two countries to be issued with U.S. visa restrictions for the first time.

Read the full statement below from the Public Affairs department of the U.S Embassy in Ghana below.

Statement on Immigration Law and International Agreements

June 20, 2018

Accra, GHANA — As sovereign nations, the Governments of the United States and Ghana each have obligations to their citizens to uphold their laws, as well as obligations to the international community to comply with international agreements. All nations have the right to enforce their immigration laws. The United States embraces its special character as a nation of immigrants, and we continue to welcome those who enter the United States legally and respect U.S. laws. However, enforcing our immigration laws is a responsibility we owe to the American people, just as Ghana enforces its own laws. So far this year, Ghana has used its own legal processes to deport 100 individuals of different nationalities who were found to be in violation of the law.

The Government of Ghana became a signatory to the Convention on International Civil Aviation in 1957. Under International Civil Aviation Organization guidelines, the Government of Ghana, through its Embassy in Washington, D.C., and its Consulate General in New York, has an obligation to interview deportees on a regular basis and issue the necessary travel documents. This helps to facilitate deportees’ departure on commercial flights. When the Government of Ghana fails to meet its ICAO obligation regarding the regular issuance of travel documents, the U.S. government is forced to employ charter flights for deportations. The Government of Ghana has the power to reduce, or even end, the use of charter flights by meeting its obligation to issue travel documents in a timely manner.

In December 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) identified Ghana as being at risk of non-compliance on removals of those under deportation orders. Since then, the U.S. government has repeatedly engaged the Government of Ghana in both Washington, D.C., and Accra and has urged the government to abide by its international obligations and issue the necessary travel documents so that Ghanaians under deportation orders may depart the United States on commercial flights. If Ghana fails to comply with international obligations regarding the issuance of travel documents, the United States may be forced to begin implementing visa restrictions on Ghana, in accordance with U.S. law.

The United States of America takes its legal and human rights obligations very seriously. In the course of enforcing U.S. immigration laws, the U.S. government would strongly prefer that individuals under deportation orders depart the United States via commercial air carriers, as regular passengers.

We encourage Ghanaians to abide by legal processes if they seek to immigrate to the United States. We commend the Government of Ghana for taking steps to promote private sector growth that will create employment opportunities for Ghanaians; foster even greater security; and ensure a promising future for Ghana’s youth, thereby minimizing illegal immigration to the United States.

Credit: Myjoyonline

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