A Fulani born Gambian, has accused Gambia’s Immigration officials of “ethnicity and citizenship” profiling, after he and his family got stopped by Immigration agents on suspicion of not being Gambian citizens. The accusations were made by Haruna Barry, a resident of Sukuta. Mr. Barrow told Freedom Radio Gambia’s Civic Education show aired on Thursday, that he and his “family are victims of Immigration profiling.”
“I have been stopped on numerous occasions by Immigration agents for no justified reasons. I have noticed that if I walked pass them and start speaking my dialect Fulani, that’s a probable ground for them to pull me aside and ask for my ID or alien Card. I deliberately pretended to be speaking Fulani, just to see if they will stop me. I have been stopped on three different occasions for merely speaking Fulani. They told me that they thought that I was not a Gambian. I was questioned and let go,” Mr. Barry said.
“I was born and raised in the Gambia. I attended school in the Gambia. I live my whole life in the Gambia. I do not see the justification for them to target me for profiling. Profiling in any form is wrong. The Fulas constitute the second biggest ethic group in this country. Yes, there are Guineans living here. But for them to profile anyone speaking Fulani, as a foreigner is wrong. I was asked to produce my alien card or ID Card. I complied with them. I felt being profiled and discriminated in my own country,” Mr. Barry lamented.
Mr. Barry’s family owns a local bakery shop in Sukuta. He said Immigration agents occasionally frequent their home to interview residents about their status.
“Out of our neighborhood, the Immigration agents will only raid our home. They will storm our bakery to arrest the bakers. Usually, they will ask for bribe before they will let the bakers free. Some of the bakers are Guineans. I want the government to act because the people at my home are increasingly running out of patience. The next time they come to our home, they might face a resistance,” he said.
Mr. Barry said Immigration agents also profiled people based on the color of their skin.
“If you are light skin, that’s a probable cause for them to stop you. They have convinced themselves that Fulanis are light skin. What is happening in this country amounts to ethnic profiling and discrimination. I do not mind going to local radio stations to address the issue. Someone gave me your number to call your radio. It is about time for the authorities to look into the conduct of some of these corruption and rogue Immigration agents,” he concluded.
Gambian Immigration officials could not be reached for comment.