The two ex-Gitmo detainees — Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby – have given the government the green light to look for a third country for them so that they could leave Ghana, the Deputy Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Minister Charles Owiredu has revealed.
The Foreign Affairs Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey on Wednesday, January 24, revealed that the ex-Gitmo detainees will remain in Ghana despite the expiration of their stay in the country.
This, she told Parliament was because the erstwhile John Mahama administration handed them a refugee status which the United States Ambassador to Ghana Robert Jackson said came as a surprise to him.
“I did not know until this week that they had been granted a refugee status,” Mr. Jackson told Journalists in Wa in the Upper West region.
“That came as much of a surprise to me as all of you. However, that decision just gives them certain rights and if the government of Ghana wishes to relocate them to a third country, they need to discuss that with the two refugees under the international law.”
But speaking Tuesday on Joy FM, Mr. Owiredu said the government has been negotiating with a third country to accept the duo with their consent.
“…Because per the laws, the 1951 convention and 1957 protocol on refugees you would need their consent. So of course, we sought their consent before these negotiations were done,” he stated.
When the interviewer further quizzed that: “And so now, you have their consent and they say when you find a country we are ready to leave,” Mr. Owiredu replied: “Not as easy as you put. But of course, they are aware that government is in negotiation with a third country for them to exit.”
The Supreme Court last year declared as unconstitutional the admission of the two — Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby – into the country by the erstwhile Mahama administration.
The decision to host the detainees in Ghana provoked a firestorm of controversy and outrage among Ghanaians, with many expressing fear that the move would undermine Ghana’s internal security and expose the country to attacks from religious extremists.