Cape Verde wants to limit movement of goods and people with ECOWAS countries

11 August 2006

Praia, Cape Verde, 11 Aug – Cape Verde would like to suspend the agreement on the free movement of goods and people with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in order to strengthen immigration control, the A Semana newspaper reported Friday.

The daily indicated that the government has already contacted ECOWAS and is preparing at diplomatic level the request to suspend the clause on the free movement of goods and people, which will be submitted in the next few weeks.

The agreement, known as the Abuja Treaty, envisages supsension of the clause based on a special treatment of small or island countries.

The clause enables citizens from one of the member countries to enter Cape Verde for 90 days by showing only an identity card or passport.

The local press reports that this situation has led thousands of nationals from Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana and Guinea-Conakry to enter Cape Verde. They often remain illegally or use the island nation as a platform for illegal immigration to Europe, particularly via the relatively close Spanish Canary Islands.

Cape Verde has been approached by the European Union and some of its member countries, such as Spain, with a view to controling the phenomenon. They have offered assistance and cooperation in controling illegal immigration.

Official figures indicate that Cape Verde annually takes in 5,000 to 6,000 legal ECOWAS immigrants per year, though it is estimated that thousands of others enter the islands illegally. (macauhub)