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NDC GAVE GITMO 2 REFUGEE STATUS - Foreign Minister reveals

Politics

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor-Botchwey, has told Parliament that the two ex-detainees of Guantanamo Bay sent to Ghana by the United States government on the suspicion of terrorism were already in possession of documents indicating that they had been given a refugees status as far back as July 21, 2016, by the National Democratic Congress administration.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor-Botchwey, has told Parliament that the two ex-detainees of Guantanamo Bay sent to Ghana by the United States government on the suspicion of terrorism were already in possession of documents indicating that they had been given a refugees status as far back as July 21, 2016, by the National Democratic Congress administration.

 

Shirley Ayorkor-Botchwey, told the House, yesterday, that based on the facts available to her Ministry, the NDC government and the United States government agreed that the US responsibilities regarding Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih al-Dhuby, end in two years after the two had integrated in the Ghanaian society.

She added that the arrangement between the US and government of Ghana clearly laid the rest of the responsibilities on the two Yemen nationals solely on the Ghana government as far as their status is concerned.

She revealed that, under the arrangement, no exit plan was discussed on the Gitmo 2 ex-detainees about their reintegration into the Ghanaian society.

"It is to be noted that no exit arrangements were originally discussed between the two governments to end the bilateral arrangements at the time of negotiations.

The US had also been clear in our discussions with them that, per the agreement, 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," the Minister stressed.

According to the Minister, even before the ratification by Parliament of the case involving the two ex- detainees of Guantanamo Bay in August 1, 2017, and the earlier decision by two Ghanaians, Nana Boakye and Margaret Banful, to take the matter to the Supreme Court to rule on the action, Ex-President John Dramani Mahama had accepted to keep the Gitmo 2 on Ghanaian soil.

Concluding, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, said the two ex detainees, after resettlement into the Ghanaian society, are now with families.

Shirley Ayorkor-Botchwey, however, disclosed that close monitoring of the persons of Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih al-Dhuby so far indicates that they are of “good behaviour.”

The Minister additionally indicated that options open to government had hit a snag because the arrangement stipulates that the government of Ghana was to take measures to facilitate the integration of Bin Atef and Al-Dhuby into Ghanaian society.

"What this means is that while the US obligations ends after two years, Ghana's obligations continues even after that," Ayorkor-Botchwey insisted.

Significantly, she observed, the Ministry of Interior had informed her Ministry of records at the Refugee Board which revealed that the Mahama administration at the time granted the two detainees refugee status.

This followed a request by the National Security to the then Chairman of the Ghana Refugee Board, based upon which they were issued a Decision Letter dated July 21, 2016, recognizing their status as refugees.

The Foreign Minister, however, mentioned that the implications is that, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees of 1951 and the 1967 Protocol on the Status of Refugees, as well as the provisions of the Refugee Law, 1992, (PNDCL 305D) of Ghana, the two have attained the status of refugees in Ghana.

“Accordingly, government is constrained to explore any other options at this time and will await an in- depth examination of the matter by the appropriate agencies,” before taking any other decision.

The National Security Minister, Albert Kan Dapaah, who was present in Parliament, called for a discussion free from politics on the Gitmo 2.

January 6, 2018 is the supposed date on which the bi-lateral cooperation concerning the resettlement of the two came to an end.