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.