32 Gambian Refugees Facing Possible Removal from Malta

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One of the detainees in cuffs
One of the detainees in cuffs

A group of Gambian refugees currently at a detention camp in Malta are still at a risk of deportation despite public outcry over the past couple of months. If readers could recall the brutal regime of the Gambia struck a deal with the Maltese government to repatriate Gambians in detention camps in Malta some months ago. This deal caught international attention because of the appalling human rights situation in the Gambia. Gambians in the diaspora started confronting the Maltese government on their decision to return these Gambians; citing fears of possible torture, extrajudicial executions, and disappearance without trace. It came to the notice of Kibaaro that these Gambian refugees are still under detention and facing possible removal from Malta. They are said to be in detention for the past six months.

Kibaaro was able to get in touch with them. They express fear of possible removal from Malta into the hands of a government that is known for dishonoring agreements and gruesomely maltreating innocent citizens. We were informed that the group comprises of Gambians of different backgrounds; soldiers, businessmen, students…etc. The group speaking to Kibaaro express disappointment in the way they are treated at the detention camp. “We are treated like criminals despite the fact that we have not committed any crime as our movement is seriously curtailed” charged the purported spokesman of the group. He lamented that even when they fell sick and had to be transported to hospital for treatment they are put in handcuffs and chains. He also complained that their asylum cases are not fully processed and yet the authorities are adamant to send them back to Gambian which is breach of the refugee convention.

It is important to remind the government of Malta that the President of the Gambia is very unreliable. No government should strike a deal with a rogue state especially when it has to do with lives of refugees. It is the same Yahya Jammeh who made a proclamation some time ago that Gambian asylum seekers are out to tarnish the image of the country. We remind the Maltese government that a law which carries a heavy sentence has been enacted in the Gambia for so-called tarnishing the image of the country. There is a high risk that these Gambian youth in Maltese detention camps would be treated as enemies of the state and would therefore face full wrath of dictator Jammeh if forcefully returned home.