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The Foreign Minister Withdraws Motion For Cooperation In Migration Matters With Swiss Federation

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Dr. Mamadou Tangara, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad

By Ramatoulie Jawo 

Honorable Mamadou Tangara, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation, and Gambians Abroad, appeared before lawmakers on Tuesday, September 5, 2023, to move a motion on the withdrawal of the Consideration and Ratification of the Agreement on Cooperation in Migration Matters between the government of The Gambia and the Swiss Federal Council.

Justifying the reasons for his withdrawal, Hon. Tangara highlighted that the document is not an international agreement that would require the National Assembly’s ratification.

He said the good practice document is a standard operating procedure for managing the return of Gambians who have exhausted their rights to stay within the European Union.

“It’s a readmission agreement or a memorandum of understanding on the modalities for return which was not signed by either parties, and it’s not an international agreement that will require the National Assembly’s ratification. It was agreed by both parties in 2018 as a memorandum of understanding, and its implementation started in 2019, with the development of operational conclusions on return modalities,” he said.

He said, “the operational conclusions reflect the outcome of the MOU with a view to ensuring a proper implementation of the good practices on returns between the Gambia and the European Union. He said the operational conclusion operationalizes the good practices document.”

Mr. Tangara also said “the purpose of the good practices document is, and its operational conclusion, is to ensure that the readmission of our nationals follows due process, including exhausting their rights, legal remedies to stay. Their dignified return, our reception capacity, and their re-integration.”

“As a government, we have developed a coherent policy in managing irregular migration as enshrined in the migration policy 2020 to 2030; consequently, it is the government’s responsibility to discourage the youth from embarking on such perilous journey to Europe. However, the government has not and will not arrange or facilitate the return of anyone without due process being followed,” he added.

He emphasized that in pursuit of a comprehensive and mutually beneficial migration partnership with the European Union and its member states, The Gambia has actively been involved in dialogues with the European Union. This engagement will persist as they seek to address the situation of their nationals who are presently within the jurisdiction of the European Union, having adhered to the law, and exploring possibilities for their integration.

“However, the removal or return of any Gambia national from any European member state is exclusively the purview and authority of that country while under international customary law, The Gambia, as a country of origin for any of our nationals who have exhausted all their legal remedies to stay in that country, has the responsibility and obligation to react with them. The Gambia have been a beacon of hope and a good example of democracy; hence, for the partners, it’s our considered view that this should be the time to offer more support to the Gambia and not sanctions,” he said.

Mr. Tangara emphasized that, at present, migration remains a pivotal aspect of the government’s foreign policy agenda. 

He went on to explain that his ministry is currently confronted with substantial challenges in the process of repatriating Gambian migrants who are stranded, underscoring the necessity for a nationwide dialogue on irregular migration.

“This is a national issue beyond partisan politics and requires concerted efforts from the communities, families, National Assembly members, SOEs, and NGOs. Many tragedies affecting Gambian migrants travelling irregularly has caused distress enormously. An unfortunate situation is the boat carrying 39 migrants from Gunjur that went missing, and until today, for over a year, their whereabouts cannot be established. 

“There are 169 migrants currently stranded in Niger awaiting our repatriation; over 100 migrants are currently in Libyan immigration detention centers awaiting repatriation to the Gambia. How many Gambia youths are mentally ill and are in the streets of Italy and other European countries? These are a few examples to show the dangers associated with irregular migration,” he emphasizes.

He said they acknowledge the importance of how much remittances are coming to the country from migrants to support their families.

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