GITMO 2 are legal residents in Ghana – Foreign Minister

 

Ms.Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey,Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Intergration

Ms.Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey,Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Intergration

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, has stated that “government’s hands are tied” on whether or not to repatriate the two former Guantanamo Bay detainees because they have obtained the right to reside in Ghana.

 

This is by virtue of a refugee status granted the duo, Mahmud Umar Muhammed Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammed Salih Al-Dhuby, by the erstwhile John Mahama led National Democratic Congress government, Ms. Botchwey, MP, Anyaa/Sowutuom, noted.

 

“It is impossible to do anything about it whether they continue to stay here or not because they are legal residents for now. They can only leave upon consent,” she told Parliament in Accra yesterday in a statement to update the House on the status of the two.

 

It follows indications given by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at his media engagement in Accra that the fate of the two Yemenis would be determined when Parliament resumed following the expiration of their stay in Ghana on January 6, 2018.

 

Parliament in June 2017 ratified the agreement between Ghana and the United States of America (USA) to house the two former Guantanamo Bay detainees, suspected of involvement in acts of terror, after more than 15 years of detention without evidence to that effect.

 

The previous government’s decision to accept the two without Parliamentary approval irked public reaction compelling two Ghanaians, Mrs. Margaret Banful and Henry Nana Boakye, to head to the Supreme Court.

 

The court in its ruling said admitting the two without Parliamentary approval was “unconstitutional” and ordered that the House ratified the agreement within three months of its judgement or return the former detainees, a directive which was dully respected.

 

Giving further details on the agreement reached by the two government’s persuant to the admission of the two, Ms Ayorkor Botchwey said “no exit arrangements were originally discussed to end the bilateral arrangements at the time of negotiation.”

 

She said during the fresh negotiations, the USA Ambassador had made it clear that “returning them to the US is not an option open for discussion or negotiation. This means that all obligations relating to the two has now become the responsibility of Ghana.”

 

Government, accordingly, she said, is “constrained to explore any other options at this time and would  await an in depth examination of the matter by the appropriate agencies.”

 

But the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, commenting on the statement said government’s position on the matter was deceptive because it had the powers under section 15 of the Refugee Law of 1992 to withdraw the Refugee status of the duo if it so wished.

 

According to him, the New Patriotic Party, whiles in opposition, played politics with the matter even after the House was apprised and urged it to stop the “pretence.”

 

He said per the Minister’s statement, it was clear the government knew the nitty-gritties of the agreement between Ghana and the US and should not sound surprise as if it was not aware of it.

 

The Tamale South MP wondered what the farce about the residence status of the two former detainees after the minister admitted that they have been of good behaviour and posed no security threat to the country.

 

Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, for his part faulted the previous administration of granting the two refugee status without stating same in the handing over notes and urged the ministries directly involved in the matter to  ensure that the vest interest of the country was served in the matter.

 

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