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Parliament okays stay of Gitmo two in Ghana

By
Benjamin Mensah, GNA

Accra, Aug 1, GNA – Parliament on Tuesday
ratified an agreement to allow the two ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees to stay in
Ghana, following a Supreme Court order.

The Court ruled that their stay in Ghana is
unconstitutional without parliamentary backing.

A report presented to Parliament on Tuesday by
the Foreign Affairs Committee said the two: Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and
Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby, should be allowed to stay in the country
because they posed no threat.

The two who hailed from Yemen are among 17
detainees transferred from the 
Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba by the United States.

The decision to host the detainees in Ghana
provoked a firestorm of controversy and outrage among Ghanaians, with many
expressing fear that the move would undermine Ghana’s internal security and
expose the country to attacks from religious extremists.

A Supreme Court panel presided over by Chief
Justice Sophia Akuffo by a  majority
decision in June ruled that the stay of the two in the country was illegal, since
they had no prior approval by Parliament.

The order by the Apex court was necessitated
by a suit brought against the Attorney General and Minister of Justice as well
as the Minister of the Interior by two Ghanaian citizens—Margaret Bamful and
Henry Nana Boakye last year.

The court ordered that government should
within three months subject the agreement to parliamentary consideration and
approval.

In default the two Gitmo detainees should be
returned.

When the matter came up for discussion, the
House was informed that the agreement that was reached were note verbale and
Memorandum of Understanding.

A note verbale is a piece of diplomatic
correspondence prepared in the third person and unsigned: less formal than a
note (also called a letter of protest) but more formal than an aide-mémoire.  

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) an
agreement between two (bilateral) or more (multilateral) parties.

It expresses a convergence of will between the
parties, indicating an intended common line of action.

It is often used in cases where parties either
do not imply a legal commitment or in situations where the parties cannot
create a legally enforceable agreement.

Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Minister of
Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration said the Ministry and other
stakeholders were already working on an exit plan for the two detainees before
their two-year stay in Ghana expires on January 6, 2018.

She stressed that there will be “no further
obligation” to keep the two “unless the two governments agree otherwise and in
accordance with due process”..

“Considering the fact that no findings have
linked the detainee to any terror group, and the importance of the Agreement to
the strengthening of the bond between… Ghana and the government of the United
States… the Committee wishes to recommend to the House to adopt its report and
ratify the agreement… on the Resettlement in Ghana of two (2) former Guantanamo
Bay detainees,” the Foreign Affairs Committee Report said.

GNA

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