Atik Mohammed has called on government to revisit the Refugee Act to review the status of the two Gitmo detainees in Ghana.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey has told Parliament that the Government of Ghana has no option to return the Gitmo detainees because the erstwhile Mahama administration granted them refugee status.
The agreement between Ghana and the United States of America, according to her, 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 two detainees of Yemeni nationality, Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby who are known to be linked to terrorism were brought to Ghana in January 2016 for a period of two years.
“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”, Madam Ayorkor Botchwey narrated to Parliament on Wednesday.
“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”.
"It is to be noted that no exit arrangements were originally discussed between the two governments to end the bilateral arrangement at the time of negotiation. The US has also been clear in our discussions with them that per the agreement, returning them to the United States is not an option open to discussion or negotiation. This means that all obligations relating to the two have now become the responsibility of Ghana”, she added.
Speaking on Peace FM's 'Kokrokoo', Atik Mohammed believed that though the Mahama government apparently deceived Ghanaians about their engagement with the US government over the fate of the detainees, the Akufo-Addo administration can revoke their refugee status by visiting the Act.
Quoting portions of the Act, Section 15 (1a), Atik told host Kwami Sefa Kayi that "where at any time the Board considers that there are reasonable grounds for believing that a person who has been recognised as a refugee should not have been so recognized or has ceased to qualify as a refugee for the purposes of this Law, the Board may withdraw the recognition..."
Atik, upon this law, wants the government to note that "we cannot claim vulnerability in respect of returning these Gitmo 2. I’m not saying we should repatriate them but if we make assessment and find out their continued stay in Ghana won’t help, whether we granted refugee status or not; it’s for me immaterial”.
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