– Revealed!

… As He Begs Parliament To Speedily Ratify Gitmo 2 Agreement  

The New Patriotic Party government is sacred of incurring the displeasure of the US government, led by a no-nonsense Donald Trump, and so wants Parliament to ratify the agreement with Uncle Sam to host two ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees with dispatch.

Following President Akufo-Addo’s issuance of Executive Approval for the Agreement to be ratified by Parliament under a Certificate of Urgency, on the 19th of July, Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, filed a Memo to the Legislature six days later.

In that memo, which is dated the 25th of July, 2017, the minister underscores the point that Parliament needs to urgently ratify the agreement so that a chaotic diplomatic relations with the US that is looming is forestalled.

“Clearly, any delay in obtaining ratification within the time limits of the Supreme Court Order would engender a diplomatic embarrassment to this government and adversely affect our relations with the United States of America.

“In view of the fact that Parliament rises in a fortnight, this request for ratification must be addressed under a certificate of urgency to ensure due compliance with the (Supreme) court Order.”

The memo is coming just two months after the US deported some 75 expatriate Ghanaians back to the country, some in chains.

As preamble to the request for urgent ratification of the Agreement the memo gave a background to the issue of Ghana playing host to Mahmoud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhamad Salih Al-Dhuby – the two ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees, confirming that former President Mahama had accepted to host them on humanitarian grounds.

The five-page memo also confirmed that the predecessor NDC government had done detailed screening of the two to ensure they did not pose danger to Ghanaians.

“A summary profile on the subjects indicates that although born in Saudi Arabia, Mahmoud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef (International serial Number (ISN) 202) and Khalid Muhamad Salih Al-Dhuby (ISN 506), are Yemen Nationals. They were captured in Afghanistan in 2001 and detained in Guantanamo Bay until their transfer to Ghana in January, 2016.

“The information further indicates that they were never charged with any crime. In 2010, they underwent rigorous screening process and were approved for the transfer by a unanimous decision of relevant Agencies.”

In recap, the memo said arrangements for the agreement for Ghana to host the two till January 2018 began in January 2014 when the US submitted through its Embassy, a demarche on settlement of detainees. The demarche had highlighted then President Barrack Obama’s commitment to close down Guantanamo Bay, the memo added.

It said Ghana’s National Security Coordinating Council and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had deliberated with then US Ambassador, Gene Cretz, an unnamed special envoy for the closure of Guantanamo Bay and officials from the US State Department.

“By exchange of US Note Verbale No. 2015-1422 dated 13th July, 2015 and Ghana answering Note Verbale No.  SCR GH/USA RELS dated 17th August, 2015 the two countries established a framework and concluded arrangements on settlement.”

On January 6, 2016, the two ex-detainees arrived in Ghana.

Under the Agreement, Ghana’s obligations, upon receiving them included, monitoring and putting them under surveillance for at least two years, sharing intelligence on them with the US, while withholding their passports and other traveling documents, and notifying the US of any travel that either of the two undertook.

After the expiration of the two-year hosting period, the Government of Ghana was to facilitate their integration into Ghanaian society if the two chose to stay on in Ghana.

However, it would be recalled that after President Mahama had accepted to host the two, there was a lot hullabaloo over the safety of Ghanaians in view of the supposed terrorism inclinations of the two ex-detainees. The agitations had been led by the now ruling NPP, which was then in opposition.

In what is seen as the NPP’s quest to harvest cheap political points from the situation at the time, the party denounced President Mahama’s actions, with current Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye, questioning the legal savvy of President Mahama and his Attorney General, Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong.

Amidst the NPP-led attacks on the NDC government, Nana Akufo-Addo, who was then the opposition leader, had denied being consulted beforehand on the issue, even though it later emerged that he had indeed been consulted.

Amidst the razzmatazz, two Ghanaians, Mrs. Margaret Banful and Henry Nana Boakye, sued at the Supreme Court. The two invoked the original jurisdiction of apex court to interpret Article 75, stating that the acceptance of the two ex-detainees required parliamentary ratification.

President Mahama and the NDC lost the 2016 election to the NPP and Nana Akufo-Addo. However, upon assuming the mantle of governance, the NPP government shocked everybody when it made a u-turn on the issue.

Though the NPP had lambasted the Mahama government for not obtaining Parliamentary approval before accepting to host the two GITMO detainees, the new Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo, picked up from where Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong had left off advancing the same arguments that Marietta had advanced in defense of the agreement.

On 22nd June, 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that the agreement was unconstitutional due to the lack of Parliamentary approval and ordered the government to obtain the ratification within three months or send the two ex detainees back.

The Supreme Court’s order giving the three-month grace period for the NPP government to put its act together expires in the next five months on the 22nd September, 2018, which fact has pressed the panic button for the Akufo-Addo government.

“Clearly, any delay in obtaining ratification within the time limits of the Supreme Court Order would engender a diplomatic embarrassment to this government and adversely affect our relations with the United States of America.

“In view of the fact that Parliament rises in a fortnight, this request for ratification must be addressed under a certificate of urgency to ensure due compliance with the (Supreme) court Order,” the memo underscored.

Interestingly, this hurry to ratify the Agreement with the US so that Ghana does not incur a diplomatic spat is in spite of the fact that the US is deporting Ghanaian expatriates back to the country in chains.

In 2016, ‘Uncle Sam’ deported 1,968 Ghanaian nationals. So far in 2017, at least 183 Ghanaians have been ejected from the States in line with a clampdown that plain-talking US President, Donald Trump, has brought on so-called illegal immigrants.

The Ghanaian deportees had mostly landed at the Kotoka International Airport in chains, like animals, even as Robert Jackson, US Ambassador to Ghana, has arrogantly told it to the face of Ghanaians that ‘Uncle Sam’ does not regret any of its actions.

In the memo to Parliament seeking ratification of the Agreement to host the two ex-US detainees, the Foreign Affairs Minister emphasized that Ghana’s National Security has been bearing the cost of their care.

“National Security is in charge of their immediate care,” the memo said.

The memo added that the Foreign Affairs Ministry was to consult National Security and other relevant security agencies to thrash out issues, including ascertainment of arrangements in place in respect of the ex-detainees after expiration of the two-year period in January 2018 – whether the two would be sent back to Afghanistan, Yemen or be given asylum in case where the two want to stay on in Ghana.

It said the ministry will also determine whether Ghana will be responsible to negotiate their resettlement in other countries, in the case where they chose to settle somewhere else.

The memo also notified that the ministry was holding consultation with the US Embassy to bring proper closure to the end of the agreement as the US Embassy has already indicated that there are no formal steps to follow upon the expiration of the Agreement.


Source: Fiifi Samuels



The Republic News Online

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