Deport Gitmo 2 If You Want…Refugee Status Not Binding – Ablakwa To Gov’t

Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa says the ruling government can deport the two Guantanamo Bay ex-detainees because their refugee status is not irrevocable.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, told parliament on Wednesday, 24 January 2018 that the two ex-detainees, Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby, have become Ghana’s responsibility because no exit plan was made by the Mahama-led administration.

According to her, the hands of the Government are tied now considering the bilateral agreement the Mahama-led Government entered into with the United States of America.

“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 said.

However, Ablakwa who is also the Ranking Member on Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament claims it is wrong for government to say their hands are tied because the agreement between the two countries was not cast in stone.

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” he told Kwami Sefa Kayi in an interview on PeaceFM's "Kokrokoo" Morning Show, Thursday.

The North Tongu MP further indicated that for the two ex-detainees not to become a burden on the ruling government, they can be allowed to work to take care of themselves.

After two years, they are adults, they can work if they are properly integrated; that was the understanding

According to him, “if we don’t feel comfortable with them, we can revoke the refugee status; tell them that we are deporting them; if we are no longer a compassionate country or give them an option of a third country like Morocco”.

“We all have to be responsible as far as this issue is concerned and so I would have wished that the ruling government would not have politicized this issue; we don’t need politics to be at the center stage…let’s find a bi-partisan; matured nationalistic approach” he added.