By Amin Kef Sesay
HE Sidique Wai,Sierra Leone Ambassador to the United States and Canada on January 25, 2020 disclosed that when he assumed office after the 12th September 2019 the Emergency Travel Certificate (ETC) matters that resulted in the video transcript making rounds on social media took place before then. He intimated how appropriate steps have been taken to address these unfortunate situations, while working with US immigration enforcement officers to obey their laws and equally impressing upon them to obey the laws of Sierra Leone.
He pointed out that in that regard the following policy changes have been implemented within their operation as noted below:
1. Anyone perceived to be a Sierra Leonean that is facing deportation and held in US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other enforcement custody must present a Sierra Leone Passport and birth certificate to the Embassy before issuance of an ETC.
2. The US enforcement agency and official requesting the ETC must provide a valid deportation order from a US judge certifying that all legal remedies entitled the deportee under US law have been satisfied.
3. A Sierra Leone Embassy official must conduct a personal interview with the alleged deportee to prove that the individual is a bona fide Sierra Leonean.
4. All information collected will be submitted to immigration officials in Sierra Leone for proper vetting and authentication of the documents submitted prior to the Embassy issuance of an ETC to facilitate travel to Sierra Leone.
5. Advance notification provided to Sierra Leone authorities of arrival of deportee before departure to Sierra Leone.
The Ambassador said they have and will continue to refine protocols to ensure that fairness and legal procedures are strictly adhered to prior to deportation to Sierra Leone.
He revealed how he was recently interviewed by Reuters news organization regarding a new set of travel bans directed at several countries in Africa including Sierra Leone. Ambassador Wai assured that he will continue to engage both the US State Department and ICE to lift the travel ban on Sierra Leone noting that hopefully the issue will soon be resolved to the satisfaction of all.