Ghana’s ‘Guantanamo deal’ condemned

Mahmud Umar  Bin AtefSome Ghanaians have reacted to the government’s decision to provide refuge to a number of persons from Rwanda, Yemen and Syria, following the humanitarian crisis in their countries.

A number of Ghanaians have criticised the government for agreeing to accommodate terror suspects who had been tried and either acquitted and discharged, or sentenced and served their time but did not find it appropriate to resettle in their home countries.

A Senior Fellow of the Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD) of the University of Ghana, Dr. Vladmir Antwi-Danso, told The Ghanaian Times that though Ghana, as a member of the United Nations and of the world community, had an obligation towards the humanitarian aspects of peace and security, it was not obliged to offer support.

“It must be emphasised that the obligation is not a legally-binding one. It is only a moral one. Are we in a competition with other countries in this moral race?” he queried.

Dr. Antwi-Danso said the government’s explanation that it took the Yemenis because there was instability in Yemen was unacceptable.

He was of the view that Yemen’s neighbour, Saudi Arabia, was peaceful and a close ally of the U.S.

According to him, Saudi Arabia, only 993 kilometres from Yemen was “a better option than Ghana, which is about 8,729 kilometres away from the war-ravaged nation”.

He said Ghanaians were not prepared for the “shock” of knowing the two terror suspects, Khalid Mohammed Salih al-Dhuby, 38, and Mahmmoud Omar Mohmmed Bin Atef, 36, detained in the US since 2002, would be left to walk free in Ghana after two years.

He said money laundering, gun running and drugs were some nefarious activities open to these detainees, once they were free.

Dr. Vladimir Antwi-Danso observed that the decision was irreversible, saying he was not surprised by the developments because he had earlier raised concerns in an article published in The Ghanaian Times on May 8, 2015 titled: ‘Resolving the Guantanamo Puzzle, let the dead bury their dead!’

He said the story that there were Syrian nationals in Ghana and that these immigrants would be accommodated by them, was not convincing.

“Aren’t there Syrian nationals domiciled in the US and elsewhere, who could have done same?” he asked.

For his part, Abdul Hakim Ahmed called for dispassionate discussion on the country’s foreign policy issue in order to protect the security and sanctity of the nation and its citizens.

“We should be mindful of the repercussions of entering into an arrangement that is tinged with dangerous geopolitics. Providing shelter and protection for Yemeni detainees in Guantanamo Bay and Syrian refugees at this stage is very bizarre,” he added.

The Ghana Refugee Board has sought to calm some of those fears by announcing that the upkeep of some Syrian refugees in Ghana would come at no cost to the tax payer.

Meanwhile, lawyer for one of the former Guantanamo Bay detainees, Mahmmoud Omar Mohammed Bin Atef, has told the New York Times that his client had grown to become “frustrated” with his detention in the infamous prison in Cuba for over a decade, despite not being put before a court.

He explained that the situation had forced Bin Atef to “act out” and say “stupid things a long time ago,” something his client had come to regret.

According to Clarke, Bin Atef’s demeanour had improved considerably  describing the ex detainee as “friendly, nice guy” who was “positive and has a good attitude.”

The two Yemeni detainees held for more than a decade at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba were transferred to Ghana, the U.S. Defence Department said on Wednesday, years after both men were recommended for release.

 

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