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Gov’t Can Send Away Gitmo 2 – Hanna Tetteh


Former Foreign Affairs Minister, Hanna Tetteh has told XYZ News that the Government of Ghana can decide to either keep or send out the two former Guantanamo Bay detainees who were brought to Ghana in 2016, by the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.

Her comments follow Foreign Affairs Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway’s announcement in Parliament on Wednesday that the two ex Gitmo detainees, Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammed Salih Al-Dhuby, had been given refugee status as far back as July 21, 2016, and had become the state’s responsibility.

She said that there was no exit plan in the agreement that was entered into by the NDC government with the US government.

But speaking on News Wire after the news broke, Hanna Tetteh noted that the original contract the then government entered into with the US was to resettle the two gentlemen in the Country and review their status after two years.

“Our understanding of the request was that, essentially, after two years they themselves will be free to travel elsewhere if they so chose to do so. . . Even though we have had a security assessment of the two gentlemen, we also felt that it was also important for us to be able to review their behaviour and we can assess them for ourselves whether they’re people that we would want to retain in the country based on the behaviour during the two year period while they were here. . .we were clear in our minds that we were committed to keep them up to two years and after two years we’d have the opportunity to review our position and that was the position of our government,” she told Kofi Oppong Asamoah on News Wire.

According to her it was the then National Security coordinator who “applied for a refugee status from the Refugee Board” for them, adding that even if they applied for status as refugees and were given identification as such, “that identification will be valid for a period. You are not a refugee forever. The Refugee Board would have given them an identification that would recognise them for a period of time.”

Meanwhile, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway has indicated that the ex Guantanamo Bay detainees would have to consent to be moved to a different country.

Speaking to the media on Wednesday after she appeared before Parliament, she said the government was actively exploring the possibility of sending the two Yemeni nationals to another country.

In response to questions on the specific countries they are looking at, Madam Ayorkor Botchway said, “for security reasons, I cannot give that kind of information.”

“Until we found out that they must consent or agree to it. Whatever option we present to them, they must consent to it. That is the bottom line, because of their [refugee] status,” she revealed, saying the search for a third nation to host the two was reaping some positive results.

Background


The two detainees, Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby, were brought to Ghana in 2016, for a period of two years, according to Ghana’s agreement with the US.

The two were in detention for fourteen (14) years after being linked with terrorist group Al-Qaeda, and were brought to Ghana when the the US government wanted to close down the Guantanamo Bay prison.

The agreement with the US on the two year stay of the former detainees expired on January 6, 2018, but government at that time did not communicate any information regarding their debatable stay.

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