In December 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) identified Ghana as one of the Countries not complying with International Civil Aviation Organization guidelines on removals of Ghanaians cited for deportation orders. The Government of Ghana became a signatory to the Convention on International Civil Aviation in 1957.
Ghana’s signatory to this convention enjoins the Government of Ghana, through its Embassy in Washington, D.C., and its Consulate General in New York, to interview Ghanaians cited for deportation on a regular basis and issue the necessary travel documents. In what is termed as the refusal, non-cooperation and feet dragging of Ghana’s Foreign Mission in the USA and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration in issuing the needed travel document for Ghanaians set to be removed from the USA, the US Government through its Embassy in Ghana on February 4, 2019, discontinued the issuance of all non-immigrant visas (NIV) to domestic employees (A3 and G5) of Ghanaian diplomats posted in the United States after several months of engagement.
Responding to this, Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration expressed shock and its disappointment at the actions of the Government of the United States as they have always cooperated and cited among others the following reasons to back their position. (1) pending litigation in US Courts regarding alleged Ghanaians (7000) set to be removed from the USA under deportation orders, (2) awaiting confirmation by U.S. authorities of a final court order for their removal in accordance with U.S. laws (3) doubts on the nationality of those set to be deported from the USA due to past experiences where Non-Ghanaians were deported as Ghanaians among Ghanaians to Ghana, (4) ill health, (5) alleged manhandling (belly chained and belly cuffed to their seat) of previously deported Ghanaians from the USA.
STRENGTHEN BIRTH AND DEATH REGISTRY AND SEVERELY PUNISH STAFF AIDING AND ABETTING AS WELL AS SOLICITORS
Unfortunately, bonefide Ghanaian citizens have had to go through hell over the years to either acquire, or replace their Birth Certificates or Passports whiles foreigners aided and abetted by the very Ghanaians working in these institutions and supported by middlemen popularly known as “connection men” easily acquire same, with just a few Ghana Cedis (within the range of Ghc 100 to Ghc 200). According to UNICEF, without a birth certificate, an individual does not officially exist and therefore lacks the legal right to access the privileges and protections of a nation. This is because a birth certificate is the basic document of
an individual or a person can present to assert their right to citizenship. This therefore, means that if foreign nationals are successful in securing a Ghanaian birth certificates, it grants them the permission to acquire a Ghanaian Passport and access other related services such as healthcare, education and social services at the disposal of citizens.
A recent investigative piece published on thursday, 28 March 2019 by Joy News investigative journalist Kwetey Nartey at the Birth and Death Registry’s main office at the Ministries, revealed not only an officer aiding and abetting foreigners in illegally acquiring Ghanaian Birth Certificate, but a network of officially employed (Staff of Birth and Death Registry) syndicate perpetuating this crime against the state (https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Full-Hotline-Documentary-Paper-Citizen-733760). The ill management and decayed structure of Ghana’s Birth and Death Registries does not only involve the junior staff. The top management are also neck-deep. The 2016 Report of the Auditor General found the registrar of the Birth and Death Registry in Suhum, Wa, Sekondi charged unapproved fees. It is therefore not surprising to see Ghanaian deportees all over the world, particularly from the United States of America who have no ties in Ghana, be it marriage, adoption, honorary or ancestry possessing a Ghanaian Passport.
On the issue of doubts regarding the nationality of those set to be deported from the USA due to past experiences where Non-Ghanaians were deported as Ghanaians among Ghanaians to Ghana, and mostly attributed to their inability to communicate in any Ghanaian language, it is the position of STARNEK-Africa that, even though Article 9 (2) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana expressly states that “Except as otherwise provided in article 7 of this Constitution, a person shall not be registered as a citizen of Ghana unless at the time of his application for registration he is able to speak and understand an indigenous language of Ghana”, one cannot use this as a basis to deny or not accept persons set to be removed from the United States of America especially when those persons hold Ghana Passport.
Let’s not go far back in history. It is believed that one of the alleged fraudsters (Nigerian with the name Adentunji Adewoye Olorunfemi) at the center of the biggest gold scam involving Horizon Royal Diamonds DMCC and MenzGold Ghana travels on a Ghana Passport issued on August 7, 2015 and to expire on August 6, 2020. It is however, unclear how and under what condition he acquired a Ghanaian Passport. This is the consequences you (Ghana) pay when your system is weak to the extent that anyone from anywhere within the Sub-Region can conveniently acquire your birth certificate and subsequently a passport by paying some few Ghana Cedis.
On the grounds of ill health cited as part of the reason for non-acceptance and feet dragging by Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, a careful read of the Chapter 12 of the Aliens and Nationality Act of the United States of America titled “§1182. Inadmissible aliens” states that a person “who seeks admission as an immigrant, or who seeks adjustment of status to the status of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, and who has failed to present documentation of having received vaccination against vaccine-preventable diseases, which shall include at least the following diseases: mumps, measles, rubella, polio, tetanus and diphtheria toxoids, pertussis, influenza type B and hepatitis B, and any other vaccinations against vaccine-preventable diseases recommended by the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices,” are deemed inadmissible to live in the USA, except for immunization requirement for adopted children under age 10 years or younger. Note, merely not adhering to the above mentioned provision constitutes a ground for deportation. It is therefore unclear the basis for which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration cites ill-health as one of the reasons for their feet dragging especially knowing that the Government of the United States has a responsibility to protect its citizens against communicable but vaccine-preventable diseases.
1. Aiding and abetting is criminalized under Section 20 of Ghana’s Criminal Code. it explicitly states “Every person who, directly or indirectly, instigates, commands, counsels, procures, solicits, or in any manner purposely aids, facilitates, encourages, or promotes, whether by his act or presence or otherwise, and every person who does any act for the purpose of aiding, facilitating, encouraging or promoting the commission of a crime by any other person, whether known or unknown, certain or uncertain, is guilty of abetting that crime, and of abetting the other person in respect of that crime”. To serve as a deterrent and to sanitize the processes of birth and death document acquisition and passport, the Birth and Death Registry should not only sanction compromised officers by suspending them and their promotions, but must also be made to serve prison sentences where necessary. This is because this has the tendency of opening the door for aliens and criminal to illegally acquire Ghanaian birth certificate and passport (travel document) and who subsequently commit crimes and overstay their visas tarnishing the hard earned image of our beloved country (Ghana).
2. The second recommendation is premised on the effective management and implementation of a National Identification Scheme. Ghana’s National Identification Scheme, intended to document Ghanaians and stay of foreigners is one of many important steps at controlling illegal acquisition of Ghana’s travel documents. Going forward, we recommend the National Identification Authority collaborate with the Ministry of Health and the Birth and Death Registry to have centers of registration for newly born babies at selected hospitals and clinics nationwide.
This takes the form of having representatives at designated hospitals either manned by NIA and Birth and Death staff with login access to a centrally national database and subject to verification.
3. The status of the registration of a child born, is subject to the citizenship status of both parents taken into consideration the citizenship acquisition guidelines clearly spelt out in Chapter 3 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
4. Regarding the alleged manhandling (belly chained and belly cuffed to their seat) of the Ghanaian deportees in past deportations, STRANEK-Africa advises the Government of Ghana to open investigations into it, to ascertain the truthfulness or otherwise of the claim. This can take the form of requesting for the video recordings of the flights the deportees were onboard, airport footage (both USA exit airport and KIA) and any document deemed relevant.
It is therefore the position of STRANEK-Africa that it is irresponsible for the Government of Ghana to unduly drag its feet especially when it is the issuing authority (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration) for the very travel documents (Passport), the very Ghanaians set to be deported from the USA travelled with. This is the consequences you (Ghana) pay when your system is weak to the extent that anyone from anywhere within the Sub-Region can conveniently acquire your birth certificate and subsequently a passport by paying some few Ghana Cedis.
Director of Policy and Political Affairs
Party Membership Management Consultant
University of Bergen, Norway
+47 412 45 303
Nii Tettey Tetteh
+233 559 042 914