Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey on Wednesday told Parliament that the Government of Ghana has no option to return the Gitmo detainees because the erstwhile Mahama administration granted them refugee status.
According to her, agreement between Ghana and the United States of America indicates that while the US has no obligation to the detainees after the two-year settlement plan, Ghana has the responsibility to integrate the two into the country.
“The government at the time granted the two detainees refugee status. This followed a request by National Security to the then-Chairman of the Ghana Refugee Board. They were issued a decision letter dated 21st July 2016, recognizing their status as refugees”, she said.
“For now, we are saying that our hands are tied because they have been granted a legal status for them to stay here. On our side, I am going ahead to explore options . . . “they will not be leaving Ghana and, that they are now the responsibility of the state”, she intimated.
Meanwhile, the Minority in Parliament is blaming government for failing to repatriate the detainees after lambasting the Mahama administration for admitting them, and promised Ghanaians they would ensure they're returned.
Speaking in an interview with host Kwami Sefa Kayi on Peace FM's 'Kokrokoo', Ranking Member on Foreign Affairs and NDC MP for North Tongu, Samuel Ablakwa noted that "there was no specific exit arrangement . . . and so within the two year period, discussions ought to continue . . . They were given refugee status because they were being hosted in Ghana; you need to give them some legal cover. Moreover, as a government it (refugee status) can be revoked at any time; it is nothing binding and so the government saying that their hands are tied is neither here nor there".
Also addressing the issue on 'Kokrokoo', NDC Communicator Chief Biney wants further discussions by government regarding the fate of the detainees to continue to ascertain whether their refugee status will be revoked or otherwise.
To him, though the Mahama government agreed and admitted the detainees in the country, it is however to be noted that granting them refugee status is not a wrongdoing on the part of the previous government.
He also stated emphatically that the Gitmo 2 detainees have been established to be non-hostile to the Ghanaian society.
He told the host that the detainees pose no threats to Ghanaians.
“It is important also to note that the Interior Minister, Hon. Ambrose Dery, today, has intimated that the Gitmo 2 in the country don’t pose a threat to any individual . . . It behoves me to emphasize it for everyone to know that the Gitmo 2 that we heard are dangerous are not like that”, he stressed.
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