Ghanaians demand answers on GITMO 2 as Foreign Ministry cancels presser

By Clement Edward Kumsah
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway

Ghanaians are vehemently demanding answers on the fate of the GITMO 2,  following the cancellation of a press conference scheduled to address the issue by the Foreign Ministry.

According to the agreement, the 2 detainees effectively ended their stay in Ghana on January 6, 2018, however, 5 clear days after the expiry, government is yet to make a statement on their fate.

According to BBC’s Favour Nunoo, the US Embassy in Ghana has said the future of the two former detainees, Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammed Salih Al-Dhuby, can only be decided by the Ghanaian government.

There were reports the Foreign Affairs Ministry had planned on Wednesday, January 10 to address the media on the fate of the 2 detainees but journalists were told nothing of that sort had been scheduled when they turned up at the Presidency.

The two detainees, Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby, allegedly members of the terrorist group Al-Qaeda were detained for 14 years at the Guantanamo Bay prison.

The GITMO 2 were released as part of efforts to close down the US-operated Guantanamo Bay prison, which is known to have had a questionable human rights record over the years.

Upon their arrival in Ghana, scores of Ghanaians including the then-in-opposition New Patriotic Party described the two as a security threat despite assurances to the contrary by the US.

Supreme Court ruling on GITMO 2

Margaret Bamful and Henry Nana Boakye, the two plaintiffs sued the immediate past Attorney General and Minister of Justice as well as the Minister of the Interior in 2016, accusing the government of illegally admitting the two former Gitmo detainees without recourse to the Constitution of Ghana.

In June 2017, the seven-member panel chaired by Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, upheld the claim of the petitioners.
In a majority decision which had only Justice William Atuguba dissenting, the Court stated that though the president is mandated to enter into international agreements on behalf of the country, he or she is enjoined to ratify such agreements in Parliament which were not done in this matter, hence the decision.

Also in the court’s verdict, the government was asked to send the agreement to Parliament for ratification or have the two detainees sent back to the US.

Parliament summons Foreign Minister

When the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway was summoned by Parliament, she indicated that the Nana Addo led-administration had not altered the formal agreement between Ghana and the United States over the two, confirming that January 6, 2018, expiry date remained.

“Mr Speaker, we have not changed anything. In the note verbale that were exchanged between the two countries. Indeed there was no agreement. The whole transaction was done through what we call a note verbale from both sides. What we have done is to attach all those documents.”

Government to take a decision soon

Deputy Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has stated that government will soon decide the fate of the two Guantanamo Bay detainees. “Government will “very shortly announce a decision”.

Ghanaians mounts pressure on Government

Some Ghanaians on social media after hearing the 2 former detainees stay in Ghana has elapsed, have begun to remind the NPP led government to send them back.