A ranking member of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee , Okudzeto Ablakwa, has warned that the case involving the two Guantanamo detainees could severe Ghana’s relationship with the United States (US) if not handled well.
His comments follow the judgement by the Supreme Court on Thursday that declared as unconstitutional the hosting of the two detainees in Ghana.
The court in its judgement also asked government to put before Parliament an agreement that will legalize the two detainees’ stay in the country.
The North Tongu legislator emphasized the need for Ghana to ensure that its relationship with the US “does not suffer” in the process.
“We should be concerned about our relations with United States of America. How we enforce this decision. We need to be circumspect and we need to make sure that we do not jeopardize our relationship with the United States of America. It is important for us to respect the decision of the court. Let us not jeopardize the security of our nation…We need to ensure that Ghana-US relations should not suffer, “ he argued.
He further watered down suggestions that President Mahama acted in bad faith by failing to consult the relevant stakeholders before hosting the two, saying “the judgement today has not suggested that President Mahama did not consult his ministers neither has the judgement said President Mahama did not act in the national interest. All we are hearing is that this judgement did not get parliamentary approval.”
The two Guantanamo bay detainees , Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby, who had been in detention for 14 years, after being linked with terrorist group Al-Qaeda were brought into the country by the Mahama administration.
Two Ghanaian citizens, Margaret Bamful and Henry Nana Boakye, subsequently sued the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, together with the Minister of Interior, accusing then-President John Mahama of illegally bringing in the two former Gitmo detainees, without recourse to the laws of the land.
The plaintiffs were seeking among other reliefs, a “declaration that on a true and proper interpretation of Article 75 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, the President of the Republic of Ghana acted unconstitutionally by agreeing to the transfer of Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby.”
Ex-Guantanamo detainees pose no security threat – US Embassy
Ghanaians said government’s decision to host the two was a threat to national security, but Government insisted the two men posed no threat.
In January 2016, the United States Embassy in Ghana, assured Ghanaians that the presence of the two former detainees, posed no threat to the security of the country.
“The two detainees that were transferred to Ghana have already arrived…we don’t have access to the specifics of their whereabouts, you have to go to the government of Ghana for that,” Public Affairs Counselor at the US Embassy in Ghana, Daniel Fennell said.