'Deported Ghanaians were not journalists' - Australian Embassy

BY: Kweku Zurek
Australian High Commissioner in Ghana, Mr. Andrew Barnes
Australian High Commissioner in Ghana, Mr. Andrew Barnes

The Australian High Commission has confirmed that the Australian Border Force (ABF) cancelled the visas of several dozen travellers from a variety of countries, including Ghana, who attempted to travel to Australia posing illegitimately as journalists, athletes or officials.

The Ghanaians, some of whom have since been deported travelled to the country in the guise as journalists to cover the ongoing 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.

However, officials of the Australian Border Force were reportedly not convinced about their reasons for travelling to the country or their claims of being journalists.

This is because, although they possessed genuine visas, they did not have journalism equipment such as laptops, recorders, mobile phones and money required to cover the games.

"While this situation is regrettable, anyone wishing to enter Australia, including athletes, team officials and the media, must hold a valid visa and accreditation and must be deemed to be a legitimate visitor," a statement issued by the Australian High Commission said.

"The ABF is working hard to ensure smooth entry for legitimate Commonwealth Games visitors and for a safe and secure Games.

According to the statement, the Australian High Commission will continue to liaise with relevant authorities from the Government of Ghana to get to the bottom of the issue.

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The first batch of the deported Ghanaians arrived in the country Wednesday night and the remaining are due in Accra in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Sports Minister Pius Hadzide, who has launched a probe into the matter has disclosed that the deportess received an endorsement from the Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC) before embarking on the trip to Australia.

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“I have spoken to the GOC, that is the Chef de Mission, on this matter, and their position is that they did not facilitate any such thing," Mr Hadzide said in an interview with Citi FM.

“However my checks from the Games organizers in Australia indicate that when they receive these nominations, they seek clarification and validation from the GOC before they are allowed to travel.

“So as to whether someone was complicit or someone just didn’t do a good job we are still investigating,” he said.