Commissioner Seedy Touray of Gambia Immigration Department, who is also responsible for refugees matters in The Gambia have order the arrest and detention of Ibrahim M. Kamara, Chairman of Sierra Leonean Refugees in The Gambia.
Kamara is held at the Kairaba Police Station, a reliable source told The Voice Newspaper.
According to the source, Mr. Kamara was arrested by four immigration officers at the campus of the Latrikunda Upper Basic School along Kairaba Avenue on January 16, 2011. Kamara’s arrest came at a time when Sierra Leonean refugees were meeting at the campus to discuss issues pertaining to their status and protection.
The agenda of the meeting was to write an appeal to the offices of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Geneva and Dakar, Senegal for a proper implementation of their permanent and durable solutions to their stay in The Gambia.
“We were holding our meeting to review the last repatriation process, the local integration and resettlement or exemption, in accordance with the UNHCR, but as the meeting progress, four officers from The Gambia Immigration Department walked in and called-off the meeting, and arrested our chairman,” the source said. “When Mr. Kamara was arrested, the officers took him to the Serrekunda Police station.”
The Source further said: “From the Serrekunda Police station, Mr. Kamara was transferred to the Kairaba Police station. No visitor is allowed to see Mr. Kamara, but whenever the family takes food for him at the station, the Police delivered it to him, but they cannot see him.”
When contacted, Commissioner Seedy Touray confirmed the story. “Sierra Leoneans are not refugees in The Gambia anymore, they are ordinary residents and are mostly considered ECOWAS citizens,” he argued.
“Mr. Kamara is all out to cause problems within the Sierra Leonean community in The Gambia,” he said, noting that the UNHCR’s mandate in The Gambia for Sierra Leone refugees has ended.
Commissioner Touray added that The Gambia is no longer playing host to Sierra Leoneans, but reviewing the case of those who have applied for integration.
Foday Kargbo, Head of the Integrated Sierra Leonean refugees in The Gambia, confirmed Mr. Kamara’s arrest and subsequent detention. He explained that the Sierra Leonean refugees in the country are divided in to two groups, he heading the Local Integrated Group and Mr. Kamara, heads those hoping for Resettlement or Exemption.
According to him, Mr. Kamara visited him and showed him a letter from lawyer Borry Touray of Crown Chambers written to the Inspection General of Police applying for a permit to hold a general meeting.
Lawyer Borry Touray of Crown Chambers did confirm writing the letter.
This letter, Kargbo said, was also copied to the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Director General of Immigration.
Mr. Saikou Saho, the Head of the UNHCR office in Banjul also confirmed Mr. Kamara’s arrest and detention but argued that Kamara is not a refugee under the protection of his office. “The sensational-cross for Sierra Leone refugees is over, since the UNHCR has ended its mandate in Sierra Leone after the war and the citizens of that country are no longer considered as refugees,” he said.
He explained that when the UNHCR’s mandate was winding down, it offered the refugees two options (local integration or repatriation). For those who preferred local integration, the process is ongoing and those who opted for repatriation has been returned to their country. Source: The Voice Newspaper