General News of Thursday, 25 January 2018
The integration of the two ex-inmates of the Gunatanamo Bay prison into Ghanaian society as refugees is a betrayal of trust against Ghana, Kofi Bentil, Vice President of IMANI Africa, has said.
Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, on Wednesday, 24 January, said Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby, have become Ghana’s responsibility and will not return to their country.
Ms Botchwey told parliament that: “No exit arrangements were originally discussed between the two governments to end the bilateral arrangement at the time of negotiations. The U.S. has also been clear that discussions with them over the agreement or returning them to the United States is not an option open to discussion or negotiation.
“This means that all obligations relating to the two subjects has now become the responsibility of Ghana. Mr Speaker, in exploring options opened to government, we have hit two hurdles – the first hurdle being that the agreement that was signed between the previous government and the United States stipulates that: ‘The government of Ghana is to take measures to facilitate the integration of Mr Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby into Ghanaian society’.
“What this means is that while the United States’ obligations ends after two years, Ghana’s obligation continue even after that. In addition and even more significant, the Ministry for the Interior has informed my ministry of records at the Refugee Board which reveal that the government at the time granted the two detainees refugee status.
“This follows requests by the National Security to then-Chairman of the National Refugee Board. They were issued a decision letter dated 21 July 2016, recognising their status as refugees. The implication is that in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the status of refugees of 1951 and the 1967 Protocol of the Status of Refugees, as well as the provision of the Refugee Law 1992, PNDC law 305D of Ghana, the two have attained the status of refugees in our country. The most essential component of refugee status and asylum is protection against return to a country where a person has reason to fear persecution…” the minister explained.
She added that “government is constrained to explore any further option at this time and will await an in-depth examination of the matter by appropriate agencies.”
However, Mr Bentil, in a Facebook post, indicated that the two can be deported to their country.
“Gitmo2 refugee status is a gross betrayal of trust. Trump preaches selfishness; let’s think of our interest first. They’re not refugees, we can deport them.
“Facts are sacred. No amount of forceful language can change a single fact. Once those facts can be brought into evidence, no one can insist that they hold the power to ignore those facts.
“The facts are as follows and they are well documented:
“These people were rendered from Guantanamo to Ghana by the US Government for a fixed period.
“They came under a contract between the two nations.
“The contract terms were set and they were not described as refugees.
“A production of the contract will settle this matter forthwith.
“With the facts settled. No one can insist that their status is different from what is firmly established.”