Minister releases Ghanaian from IDC

Stuart Young
Stuart Young

NATIONAL Security Minister Stuart Young has ordered the release of the Ghanaian man jailed for immigration problems for almost two years.

Samuel Asante, who asked for his release from the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) where he has been since 2017, was expected to be released late yesterday.

Justice Ricky Rahim was expected to rule on Asante's detention on Monday.

Newsday understands that the minister yesterday issued a ministerial permit allowing Asante to remain in TT for a year.

Arrangements were made for the immigration division to release him from the IDC.

The judge was also informed by e-mail of the decision.

The division said it it wished to save judicial time and costs and Asante has agreed to withdraw his lawsuit.

Costs will be assessed and Monday's hearing is expected to be vacated.

His attorneys Gerald Ramdeen, Umesh Maharaj and Dayadai Harripaul argued on Thursday that Asante was being unlawfully detained since no steps were taken by the Immigration Division to have him sent back to Ghana and that the Chief Immigration Officer (CIO) had no power to detain him for an unreasonable period until that happened.

The Ghanian has been at the IDC since 2017 and was expected to be deported on January 28, 2018.

He registered as an asylum seeker with the UN Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in October 2018, and that was refused on March 22 this year, according to court documents filed in support of his application for his freedom.

However, attorney Andre Cole who represented the CIO, argued that Asante’s detention was justified since there was a deportation order for him in effect and he was considered to be someone not permitted entry into TT. Cole argued that it was Asante who frustrated attempts to have him deported when he refused to leave the IDC after airline tickets were purchased to send him back to Ghana on June 17, 2018.

But this was rejected by the judge, who said he could not accept the argument that the State was being frustrated by someone who had been ordered to be deported. Rahim said an alleged illegal immigrant’s consent, or lack thereof, had nothing to do with the division’s duty to remove the individual from the country under a deportation order.

"Saying he resisted is of no use to you,” the judge told the division’s attorneys.

Cole’s submission that the division had no evidence that Asante had even applied for asylum with the UNHCR, or had been rejected also did not find favour with the judge, as the attorney admitted that no checks were made to that office to get the information.

He also said Asante could be released conditionally if he paid a security bond.

Asante, in pleading for his release, said he missed his wife and family in Trinidad and his detention had taken a toll on them.

He also said the conditions at the IDC were terrible as the toilets and showers did not work well and drinking water and toiletries were scarce.

On June 13, Prime Minister Dr Rowley agreed to the release of the sole Ghanaian at the IDC after meeting with Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo during an official state visit to TT.

Dr Rowley also announced a pardon for jailed Nigerians, similar to the amnesty granted to Venezuelans earlier that month.

At a joint-media briefing with Akufo-Addo, the Prime Minister said Africans at the IDC would be allowed to register once there were no criminal matters against them. Rowley said there were a few Nigerians at the IDC who were there for quite some time and only one Ghanaian


"Minister releases Ghanaian from IDC"

More in this section