Africans freed
September 3, 2010
Africans freed

After languishing for five years at Her Majesty’s Prison without being convicted or charged with a crime, two African nationals were freed on Wednesday, September 1.{{more}}

The men, who gave their names and nationalities as Benjamin Fife Danquah of Ghana and Emmanuel Johnson Chijioke of Liberia were released into the custody of the local Red Cross as a result of a Habeus Corpus motion filed on February 7, 2010, in the High Court.

Danquah and Chijioke were transported from Her Majesty’s Prisons in a vehicle belonging to the Red Cross Society, accompanied by Inspector Sydney James and counsel Jomo Thomas.

The men have been provided with a house by the government. They have been placed on a 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. curfew and are expected to report to the Central Police Station every day for the next three months until they have supplied all relevant information to the authorities that would assist in sending them back to their homelands.

When the matter was heard before Justice Monica Joseph on July 8 and 15, the Attorney General said that the state was willing to return both men to their homeland, but experienced a problem with their identities.

In an interview with Thomas on Wednesday, he said Chijioke has been held in custody since February 2006 after arriving here in 2001 and Danquah, who arrived in August 2005, has been held in custody since December 2005. Both await deportation.

He said the men expressed delight in tasting freedom for the first time in over five years and are excited about going back to their respective homelands.

However, Thomas is of the view that the human rights of his clients have been infringed. “…The important thing is that my clients always co-operated with the authorities. They gave birth certificates and driver’s licenses and the authorities never followed up on these things to authenticate the men’s true identity,” Thomas contended.

Thomas is also adamant that the authorities always knew the men’s nationalities because they (Africans) always declared it. “They did nothing. They simply warehoused the men…the authorities knew Danquah’s sister wrote and called him frequently from Ghana…,” Thomas noted.

Thomas added that there is a clear violation of our constitutional protected right to liberty, which he stated is afforded to all Vincentians and visitors. He also contended that the men were falsely imprisoned and the country’s constitutional law and international human rights laws were breached.

“There is a clear violation of all other human rights and refugee laws…there is no basis in which the men were held in prison for that long and it is a sad commentary on the Government to have these men incarcerated for so long,” Thomas noted.

As regards the men’s housing conditions, Thomas expressed disappointment, stating that the house “is not far removed from the conditions at Her Majesty’s Prison”. He noted that the house is in a run down state with hardly any household items. “There are leaks in the bathroom, the tiles are off the floor, there are no sheets, towels, soap and even toothpaste for the men to use,” said Thomas.

A press conference is expected to be held with the men sometime next week. (KW)