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Sep 8, 2023

Sierra Leonean Remains in Custody Pending Repatriation

Orson ‘OJ’ Elrington

James Kojo Efrimea, a national of Sierra Leone, accused immigration officials of extortion back in July when it was discovered that he illegally entered Belize.  On July tenth, he attempted to leave for Cuba via a flight at the Philip Goldson International Airport.  A red flag was raised and the Sierra Leonean was removed from the flight.  He was deemed a prohibited immigrant, charged and given an order to leave the country.  But tonight, he remains in custody at the Belize Central Prison.  After reaching out to the Immigration Department and the Ombudsman’s Office, Efrimea’s family contacted attorney Orson “OJ” Elrington to assist them with repatriating their son.  According to Elrington, he was retained by the family in late August and will be making an application for habeas corpus on his client’s behalf, as his constitutional rights are being violated.  Earlier today, attorney Elrington discussed the case with a court reporter.


Orson ‘OJ’ Elrington, Attorney-at-law

“Mr. Efrimea was charged with an immigration offense and ordered to leave.  However, during that time, he made allegations of extortion on public officers, namely, immigration officers, that was something around the middle of July.  He then appeared in front of the magistrate’s court and he was not fined but ordered to leave.  From since that date, Mr. Efrimea and his family have communicated to the government, the Immigration Department and all relevant authorities that they have the financial resources to repatriate Mr. Efrimea to his home country.  Regrettably, after weeks and weeks and weeks and, in our opinion, illegally and unlawfully keeping him detained, he has still not been released.  Mr. Efrimea and his family retained us on August twenty-ninth and from since that date we have sent communications to both the Immigration Department, as well as the Ombudsman communicating our position to the government that he is willing and able to pay his repatriation fees.  And so, it is the normal course of conduct that once they have the necessary resources to be able to facilitate this repatriation, that he should be allowed to leave at the earliest convenience.  This has not been the reality and the reason that we have learned why this has not been the reality is because of a reason which is totally not in compliance with the law and has absolutely nothing to do with Mr. Efrimea.  And so, in our opinion he is being illegally detained.  It is our understanding that he is being detained so that he can provide evidence in criminal trials against the Immigration Department’s officers.”

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