Gambia: Govt Authorities Bemoan EU Sanctions

Top Gambian officials are bitterly bemoaning “sanctions” by the European Union (EU) over “misapprehension and misunderstanding” regarding contentious but also controversial issues between the two partners.

The embargo which officials said is currently “tightened” involve “refusal to facilitate visa issuance to certain Gambians especially top government officials”.

Responding to The Point an EU spokesperson refused to comment on the issue in detail but acknowledged differences regarding a “change in policy or conduct that was forwarded to the Gambian officials but yet to be implemented”.

The official added: “So far, I am not aware of any sanctions agreed, however; restrictions are meant to seek or bring about change in the policy or conduct of those targeted… ” Nonetheless, Gambian authorities complained that the current “wave of visa rejections, delays and subjecting applicants using technical barriers are now visible.”

The Point can also confirm that one of the most affected institutions include the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA), an affiliated member of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) as well as World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Officials also fear that restriction on their attendance would badly affect “reform and capacity building… This will have a direct impact on efficient service delivery.”

Nevertheless the GRA, highly praised by international financial institutions for its “efficiency and competence” as well as a “robust and comprehensive tax policy” is now finding it extremely hard to secure visas to take part in most functions and meetings of allied institutions abroad.

At present, the issue is so worrying that a senior government official noted that “the matter must be tackled as soon as possible…otherwise we are going to be left behind in terms of development.”

A protest letter from The Gambia for a “timely intervention” is expected to be delivered to its partners.

During our investigations, this correspondent gathered that certain EU countries are “unhappy” over Gambian undocumented migrants that are currently in various European nations. Host countries had formally requested that the government should “acknowledge and accept” their repatriation without further delay.”

On the other hand, it is vital to note that Priti Patel, former UK Home Secretary had also included The Gambia in her plans to impose “visa penalties” for countries that refused to repatriate her citizens convicted or involved in alleged wrongdoing in England.

However, it is not confirmed whether the new administration in London headed by Liz Truss would follow suit or stick to the same policy.

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