Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the Expulsion of the British Deputy High Commissioner from the Gambia

  1.  The Committee, having noted press reports, asked for a report of the circumstances of the expulsion of Mr Bharet Joshi, the United Kingdom Deputy High Commissioner in Banjul; what action has been taken by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office since Mr Joshi was declared persona non grata by the Gambian authorities; and what explanation or apology has been offered by the Gambians.

  2.  The circumstances were as follows:

  3.  On the afternoon of 20 August 2001 the British High Commission in Banjul received a Note from the Gambian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stating that the continued presence of the Deputy High Commissioner, Bharat Joshi, was "against the national interest of The Gambia and intolerable". Mr Joshi was asked to leave within 72 hours.

  4.  Early on 21 August, the High Commissioners saw the Vice President (the most senior member of the Gambian Government available, the President being on holiday and the Minister for Foreign Affairs abroad) and asked for clarification of the Note, and for the decision it reported to be reviewed.

  5.  On 22 August the High Commission replied to the Note saying that, in the light of continuing discussions, we did not propose to take any immediate action. Later that day, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed the High Commission that the decision to expel Mr Joshi had been confirmed. Mr Joshi left Banjul late that evening.

  6.  The Foreign and Commonwealth Office took the following action:

    (a)  Mr Bradshaw summoned the Gambian High Commissioner on 23 August and made clear HMG's concern at the unjustified expulsion demanded a full explanation of it, and called for the decision to be revoked. The Gambian High Commissioner undertook to report to his Government.

    (b)  On FCO instructions, the British High Commissioner called on the Gambian Foreign Minister, Dr Jobe on 26 August to protest at the expulsion. (On 27 August, after meeting President Jammeh, Dr Jobe resigned, and stated that he did so on a matter of principle.)

    (c)  On 29 August Baroness Amos received the Gambian High Commissioner, who reported that the Government of The Gambia would not reverse its decision. Mr Joshi had, he said been expelled for interfering in the political affairs of The Gambia, in particular by attending a press conference organised by a number of opposition parties. Baroness Amos informed the High Commissioner that such attendance was appropriate and the explanation therefore was unacceptable: Mr Joshi had acted entirely in accordance with normal diplomatic practice. In the circumstances, the planned 1-8 September visit to Britain of a Gambian trade delegation to be led by the Minister for Trade and Industry, would no longer be appropriate.

    (d)  The FCO continued to demand the reversal of the decision to expel Mr Joshi including when the High Commission met the new Gambian Foreign Minister on 13 September. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the High Commissioner, acting on FCO instructions, told the Foreign Minister on 20 September that, if the decision were not reversed within one week, we would require the Gambian Deputy High Commissioner in London to leave.

    (e)  On 28 September the Gambian Deputy High Commissioner was asked to leave, a Royal Navy Ship visit to Banjul was cancelled and planned offers of Chevening Scholarships to four members of the Gambian Civil Service were withdrawn. The Gambian Deputy High Commissioner left London on 1 October.

  7.  The FCO has not received any apology or satisfactory explanation from the Gambian Government. Mr Joshi has our full confidence, and his Diplomatic Service career will in no way be affected by the premature ending of this posting in Banjul. We regret the damage to relations with The Gambia caused by his wholly unwarranted treatment at the hands of the Gambian authorities.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

31 October 2001

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