Ghana opens its doors to two Guantanamo detainees

January 7, 2016 OPINION/NEWS


Adisa Amanor Wilks

…not forgetting Syrian refugees and two other prisoners from Rwanda

Ghana is feeling benevolent early in the new year, with the announcement that it will welcome displaced refugees from Syria, resettle two Guantanamo detainees and two other prisoners from Rwandan.

The Ghana government has agreed to resettle two Guantanamo Bay detainees. Two, of Yemeni origin, Mahmud Umar Muhammad bin Atef, 36, and Khalid Muhammad Salih al-Dhuby, 38, who spent years in Guantanamo without charge, will now resettle in Ghana for the next two years. Atef and Dhuby are the first of 17 detainees due to be released this month.

The Yeminis were captured in Afghanistan and held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for nearly 14 years without charge. They were being held as enemy combatants, accused of training with al-Qaeda and fighting with the Taliban.

Ghana, until now had not taken in any Guantanamo prisoners. The country’s foreign minister said in a statement that: “We have indicated our readiness to accept them for a period of two years, after which they may leave the country.”

Both Atef and Dhuby had been cleared for release in 2010. According to the U.S. military, both men grew up in Saudi Arabia, were recruited and went off to train and fight in Afghanistan.

Out of the 779 detainees who were brought to Guantanamo prison after the 2001 terror attacks, about 105 detainees still remain in Guantanamo. Most have been freed or transferred without any charge.

“The United States is grateful to the government of Ghana for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing US efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility,” the US military said.

Some other detainees have been freed and resettled in places other than their home countries, such as Uruguay, Estonia, Kazakhstan and Oman.

In 2008, US President Barack Obama pledged to close down the controversial prison in Cuba, but has since failed, partly due to opposition from US lawmakers.

In a related event, in addition to taking in the Yemenis, Ghana will also take in two other people from Rwanda who were tried by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

The foreign ministry again defended its decision saying the two have been acquitted, or sentenced and served time, but didn’t want to be resettled in Rwanda.

Ghana’s charity continues. It will also provide refuge for some displaced Syrians who have relatives in Ghana. Those allowed in will be monitored, according to the foreign ministry.

“We are aware of the need to protect the security and safety of our own residents and are taking all the necessary steps to make sure that is done,” the ministry noted.







Adisa Amanor Wilks

Adisa is an experienced international journalist and charity communications professional. I dream of when the African narrative will change to reflect the hope and beauty of the people.


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