Gov’t Considering Another Country for Gitmo 2, But… – Minister
The two former Guantanamo Bay detainees being hosted by Ghana would have to consent to be moved to a different country, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway has indicated.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday after she appeared before Parliament, she said the government was actively exploring the possibility of sending the two Yemeni nationals to another country.
In response to questions on the specific countries they are looking at, Madam Ayorkor Botchway said, “for security reasons, I cannot give that kind of information.”
She added that the search for a third nation to host the two Yemenis is reaping some positive results stating that “until we found out that they must consent or agree to it. Whatever option we present to them [the two former detainees], they must consent to it. That is the bottom line, because of their [refugee] status.”
The indications put forth by the Foreign Affairs Minister are consistent with the statement released at the time from the then-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hanna Tetteh, on January 6, 2015, when the deal to host the two was announced.
The government did not explicitly state that the former detainees would necessarily have to leave the country after the agreement expired.
The statement said the two may leave the country after the two-year period, suggesting the decision was in their hands.
“At the request of the US Government, we have also agreed to accept two detainees of Yemeni origin who were detained in Guantanamo but who have been cleared of any involvement in any terrorist activities and are being released. They are unable to return to Yemen at the moment and we have indicated our readiness to accept them for a period of two years after which they may leave the country,” that statement said.
The two detainees of Yemeni nationality, Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby, who were in detention for 14 years after being linked with terrorist group Al-Qaeda, were brought to Ghana in January 2016, for a period of two years in a deal with the United States of America.
Appearing before Parliament, Madam Ayorkor Botchway had revealed that the two former detainees were granted refugee status under the Mahama government in July 2016, thus, the current government was constrained from exploring any further options for their transfer, and will await an in-depth examination of the matter by the appropriate agencies.
Yemen, their home country, has been engulfed in an intense civil war for the past two years with fighting between pro-government forces led by the current President, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and anti-government forces led by the Houthis, who are backed by former President Ali Abed Allah Saleh, who had ruled for 33 years.
Madam Ayorkor Botchway stressed to the media that the government was still consulting on the matter, adding that “we will examine what we get from other agencies and I think that is key… For now, we are saying that our hands are tied because they have been granted a legal status for them to stay here.”
Hosting Gitmo two bad deal but…
Giving her view on the matter as a whole, Madam Ayorkor Botchway said: “I think it was not a good deal and it is evident from the sentiments that have been expressed by Ghanaians and they continue to express the fact that they are not comfortable that the two were accepted and they live with us.”
“On the other hand, the reports I have been given are that, they are of good behaviour, they haven’t been engaged in anything untoward and therefore, judging on that basis, you can say that there is no need for us to be concerned,” she added.
The move to host the two in the country was criticized by many observers including the then-in-opposition New Patriotic Party, who described the two as a security threat despite assurances to the contrary by the US.
Two citizens; Margaret Bamful and Henry Nana Boakye, further sued the former Attorney General and the Minister of Interior contending that the two were being hosted illegally.
The two were justified by the Supreme Court, which declared as unconstitutional, the agreement between the Mahama government and the United States.
The apex court ordered the government to send the agreement to Parliament for ratification or have the two detainees sent back to the US.
According to the judgment, the government needed the approval of Parliament before entering into any international agreement, just as in the case of the two detainees.
When the matter came up for discussion in Parliament, the House was informed that the agreement was reached under a note verbale and Memorandum of Understanding.
A note verbale is a piece of diplomatic correspondence prepared in the third person and unsigned. Parliament subsequently ratified the agreement for the two for detainees to be in the country.
Return GITMO 2 now – Antwi Danso to gov’t
An International relations analyst, Dr. Vladimir Antwi Danso, wants government to take immediate steps to return the two former Guantanamo Bay detainees to where ever they came from.
“They were given two years to stay in Ghana, and the two years have elapsed, what next. And for me they have to leave the country. They must be made to leave by the tenets of the agreement. And agreement tells how its termination can be. So I don’t see why this thing cannot be done, because if they are not made to leave, the security implications are dire,” he told Umaru Sanda on the Point Blank segment on Eyewitness News on Tuesday.