The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission is advocating prosecution and jail terms for illegal migrants and smugglers rather than deportation to deter others from engaging in the practice.
Dr Tony Elumelu, Principal Programme Officer of Border Management and Migration, Free Movement Directorate of ECOWAS Commission, explained that smugglers and illegal migrants, knowing that deportation was the current sanction for the practice, move to other countries after they have been deported from another to continue their illegal activities with impunity.
“Deportation is not deterrent enough for smugglers and illegal migrants as well as all others who go into a different country for illegal activities. Offenders must be prosecuted and jailed, so that others will know that there will be high consequences for their illegal actions. Some move to a different country to continue their illegal activities when they are deported which is not deterrent for anyone,” he added.
Speaking at an ECOWAS stakeholder’s consultation workshop on Free Trade and Free Movement in Accra yesterday, Dr Elumelu stated that, effective enforcement of laws was necessary to clamp down on activities that could hamper free trade and investments in the ECOWAS region.
As the key agency responsible for Ghana’s border security, he said the Ghana Immigration Service was critical in building safe borders for the promotion of free trade among member countries.
He, therefore, appealed to the personnel to stay corruption-free, reject any bribery attempt and work diligently per the Service’s mandate to make the region a hub for free trade and ensure economic growth in member countries.
“As security personnel, let us all continue to work to protect citizens, community migrants and foreigners. Let us reject any act of corruption to make the region’s borders safe and secured for trade and investments to thrive,” Dr Elumelu added.
Deputy Comptroller General of Immigration, in charge of Command Post and Operations, Laud Afrifa, noted that border management currently required effective collaboration between security agencies to be able to deal with emerging safety and security threats.
Although the objective of the ECOWAS was to promote free trade and movements between member states, he said countries must be ready to regulate the activities and ensure that all laid down procedures and laws relating to trade and movements were followed to the latter.
He said the Ghana Immigration Service was prepared to work with countries in the region to improve border security and safety to ensure the objectives of free trade and movements were realised.
Greater Accra Regional Immigration Commander, Assistant Commissioner of Immigration (ACI) Samuel Basintale, called on other member state agencies to share intelligence with other countries in the region, stating that the Service was committed to working for the interest of Ghana and ECOWAS.