- The government of Ghana has been given the green light to repatriate 23 “Liberian refugees” who were arrested at Buduburam and detained at the Ghana Immigration Service.
An Accra Fast Track High Court on Thursday said the Immigration Director was entitled to repatriate the applicants after they failed to prove to their refugee status to the court.
The ruling came after the court had dismissed an interlocutory injunction filed against the Ministries of Justice and the Interior against the repatriation of the 23 Liberians, including seven minors. The court also ordered the seven minors - also among the applicants - to accompany their parents during the repatriation.
An Appeal Court Judge, Justice P.K. Gyeasayor, who presided over the case noted that the documents produced by applicants did not indicate that they were refugees registered with the Ghana Immigration Service and the Liberian Embassy.
"The letter from UNHCR even cast doubt on the applicants. The letter said it was satisfied that the applicants were not refugees and the present situation did not qualify them to be refugees," Justice P.K. Gyeasayor ruled.
The court indicated that the influx of the applicants into Ghana was a result of the war in Liberia. “Now, the war was over and a new leader had been elected, they had not been able to justify their stay," the court ruled, noting that the said issue should not be seen as "an emotional or gender one but a matter that should be based on the laws of the country."
Ghana’s Constitution guaranteed the right to movement and association, among others, but the Accra Fast Track High Court pointed out that those rights went with their responsibilities, which should also be in accordance with the law. “It found out that the removal of the applicants was lawful and did not contravene the law,” the court upheld.
Ghanaian government was earlier blamed by activists for mistreating Liberian refugees in Buduburam camp after they were accused of public stripping in protest against the UNHCR's refusal to resettle them to a third country. Buduburam officials reacted swiftly to the development, denying that the protesting refugees most of who were women stripped themselves in public.
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