Refugee Law


WHEREAS the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951 and the United Nations Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1967 have been ratified by the Government of Ghana; WHEREAS the Organisation of African Unity Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa of September 1969 was ratified by the Government of Ghana; AND WHEREAS it is necessary to give effect to the said Conventions and Protocol inorder that the provisions of these shall have the force of law in Ghana; NOW THEREFORE in pursuance of the Provisional National Defence Council (Establishment) Proclamation, 1981 this Law is hereby made:

Prohibition of expulsion or return of refugees, etc.

Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary but subject to the provisions of this Law, no person who is a refugee within the meaning of this Law shall be refused entry into Ghana, expelled or extradited from Ghana or returned to the frontiers of any territory if as a result of such refusal,expulsion or return the person is compelled to return to or remain in a country where -

◦ His life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion; or

◦ His life, physical integrity or liberty would be threatened on account of external aggression, occupation, foreign domination or events seriously disrupting public order in that country or any part of it.

2. Subsection (1) shall not apply to a refugee who -

• Is a danger to the security of Ghana;
• Has committed a serious non-political crime outside Ghana prior to his entry into Ghana; or
• Having been convicted of serious crime in Ghana, constitutes a real danger to the public.

Illegal entry or presence in Ghana of a refugee

Notwithstanding any provision of the Aliens Act, 1953 (Act 160) but subject to the provisions of this Law, a person claiming to be a refugee within the meaning of this Law, who illegally enters Ghana or is illegally present in Ghana shall not -

• Be declared a prohibited immigrant;
• Be detained; or
• Be imprisoned or penalised in any other manner merely by reason of his illegal entry or presence pending the determination of his application for a refugee status.

Detention and expulsion of refugees

A refugee may be detained or expelled for reasons of national security or public order except that no refugee shall be expelled to a country where he has reason to fear persecution.


Application for refugee status

•Any person who is within the boundaries of Ghana, whether he entered lawfully or unlawfully who wishes to remain in Ghana as a refugee within the meaning of this Law shall within 14 days of his entry into Ghana or such further period as the Board may allow, make an application for recognition asa refugee to the Board through the nearest immigration officer at his point of entry, through any immigration officer, a police officer or through the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Ghana.

• The officer through whom or the office through which the application is made shall within 7 days of the receipt of the application, forward the application, together with any documents or other information which the applicant is able to provide in support of the application, to the Board.

• The Board shall consider every application referred to it within 30 days of the receipt of the application and shall within the 30 days or thereafter make such inquiry or investigation as the Board thinks necessary into the application and may for the purpose of its investigation, invite the applicant to appear before it.

• After its investigation, the Board may recognise or refuse to recognise the applicant as a refugee; and shall notify the applicant of its decision in writing.

Appeal on refusal to grant refugee status

◦ Any person who is aggrieved by a refusal ofthe Board to grant him a refugee status, may within 30 days of being notified of such refusal, appeal in writing to the Secretary.

◦ Where an appeal is made to the Secretary under subsection (1), the Secretary may confirm or reverse the decision of the Board and shall in writing notify the applicant of his decision on the master which shall be final.

◦ Before reaching a decision on an appeal under this section, the Secretary may do all or any of the following –

1.invite the representative in Ghana of UNHCR to make oral or written representation in the matter;

2.refer the matter back to the Board for further inquiry and investigation to be made;

3.make such further inquiry and investigation into the master as he thinks necessary.

4.While awaiting the final decision of the Board, the applicant shall be allowed to remain in the country.

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