#Headlines

UK and Gambia still at loggerheads over prisoners

Mar 25, 2022, 11:52 AM | Article By: Alhagie Mbye, The Point’s Europe Correspondent

London and Banjul are currently at loggerheads, bickering over detained and imprisoned Gambian nationals due for deportation but refused to be accepted by Gambian authorities over “genuine unresolved matters”.  

The wrangling between one of the friendliest allies in Africa was made public recently when UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, reportedly told the Sun newspaper in London that “The Gambia was the first on the Home Secretary’s list” over the current matter.  

The Home Secretary revealed that Boris Johnson’s government will not only “slow visa application” from any countries that is reluctant to take back “criminals” but will also “impose penalties” for refusing to cooperate.  

Since the spat, The Point continues to uncover the reason behind such drastic action as well as the raison d’etre for the undiplomatic incident, especially when a Gambian diplomat told this correspondent that “we are surprised by the disclosure.”  

Nonetheless, the Home Secretary insisted that the government will “impose visa penalties on countries who don't cooperate on deportations…including those who are abusing our hospitality.”  

It is also revealed that The Gambia took “only four criminals” and decided to ignore the rest. 

However, responding to this correspondent, a Gambian diplomat said: “Off course we replied to the complaint. Also, we accepted those we can identify as Gambian nationals…However, what we cannot do is to accept people described as criminals who are not verified as Gambians...”  

However, other section of the media is arguing that “the right-wing press has taken the country hostage…vulnerable people including asylum seekers are rejected and ostracised…while others are accepted and welcomed”.  

A Home office spokesperson responding to our inquiries said: “The Gambia is one of our most trusted allies in that region…We rightly pointed out that the UK takes back its citizens who commit crimes abroad. Therefore, we are equally asking not only The Gambia, but for others to also do the same”.   

So far there are thousands of prisoners across the country awaiting deportation prompting the Home Secretary to also pledge to fix the "fundamentally broken asylum system...and make it firm and fair." 

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