The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botcwey, has revealed that the two former Guantanamo Bay detainees being hosted by Ghana now has official refugee status in the country and so they have been “doing something to put body and soul together”. This according to her is because the financial support from the United States of America towards their upkeep as stipulated in the original agreement has come to an end.
She said following the Supreme Court ruling that caused Parliament to ratify an agreement to legalize their stay, the two former detainees, Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby (GITMO 2) have attained official refugee status since July 21, 2016.
The Minister was clarifying issues on the current status of the GITMO 2 following agitations by sections of the Ghanaian public and some members of the opposition party in parliament that the Akufo-Addo led government should honor its campaign promise of sending the detainees away from Ghana because according to them the agreement to bring them to Ghana was a bad deal.
Addressing members of the Parliamentary Press Corps shortly after making a statement on the issue on the floor of Parliament on Wednesday, the Minister said the two have since married and are currently leaving with their families in the country peacefully, insisting that “they have been of good behavior”.
She said because of the legal status that the two have gained, the government’s hands are tied, especially because there were no exit plans in the initial agreement between the United States of America and the Ghana government.
She said that notwithstanding, the government is still exploring various options to deal with them including looking for a third country that would accept them.
“They have been under surveillance for two years and you can’t just cut ties with them like that, it has security implications,” she stated.
Asked whether the government cannot revoke their refugee status and send them back to wherever they came from, the Minister said “I don’t think we can revoke their refugee status, I don’t think the law allows for that”.