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Gambia: Mother Accuses UK Authorities of Abducting Her Children

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on Thu, 06/07/2012 - 07:12
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A Gambian mother who lived in the United Kingdom (UK) for nine years has exposed what she described as the indiscriminate abduction of her children by that country's local authorities in July 2007. Amie Faye, 44 said the UK authorities abducted her two children -Ramatulie and Ebrima John, claiming that she did not take them to school.

Narrating her ordeal to this paper on Friday, Faye revealed that her daughter, Ramatoulie John was earlier raped by one of her schoolmates in a school called Lilington Pre-school in 2005 and when she lodged a complaint to the school authorities, they turned it down and accused one black boy of being responsible for the rape.

She said she tried all she could to ensure that something is done over the issue, but both the school and the local authorities turned a deaf ear to her complaint. "Since nothing was done and I was scared of my children's safety at school, I decided to keep them at home and not to go to school," she said.

She said before incident, her ex-husband, one Matarr John, who took her to England, had already been deported to The Gambia by the UK authorities for reasons she still did not know.

According to Faye, a year after the incident, the UK authorities came to her house and took away the two children, saying that she did not take them to school. She said she was later summoned to court and charged for not taking her children to school. "During the court sittings, the authorities described me of having gone mentally imbalanced with no proven evidence," she stated, with tears running down her cheeks.

She said the court finally ruled that the two children be taken under foster care and she denied signing the document. "They then used force and took my two little children from me in July 2007," She added.

According to her, the court made an arrangement for her to be meeting her children once a week at a place called the family centre. Faye stated that immediately after the court ruling, the UK Home Office wrote to her in September 2008 ordering her to leave the country.

"Honestly, with all these struggles, I have relatives in the UK who can help me but none of them was ready to give me assistance," she said, adding that she later moved to her father's house in London, where she spent nearly a year but she was never helped to see her two children.

She said her father was given the opportunity to communicate with the two children but she was denied that privilege. "When I challenged this move, the authorities told me that they were not given the mandate to allow me access to my own children. She said the UK authorities are dragging the matter for the children to turn 16 years when she will not have access or any right over them again.

Faye said after undergoing all the struggles and humiliation, she decided to come back to The Gambia with an emergency passport but she was denied travel and her father later bought a flight ticket for her and she came back to The Gambia in 2009.

She explained that while in the country, she joined her ex-husband Matarr John to lodge a complaint to the Gambian authorities . She said they have lodged the complaint to the Department of Social Welfare, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

In January 2011, Faye continued, the Department of Social Welfare responded that they have tried to negotiate the matter with the UK authorities but they were unable to establish anything. "They promised that they will write to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the matter to be taken through a diplomatic channel, but this still did not work," she explained.

According to her, she later came to notice that the Social Welfare Department was communicating with her children, saying she was able to establish that fact when she once found one of the Social Welfare officers communicating with the children.

While expressing deep concern and need for her to be reconciled with her biological children, Faye used the opportunity to appeal to Gambia authorities to help her get back her children. "I am a Muslim and I want my children to be practicing their religion," she said.