The minority spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa wants the government to brief Ghanaians about the status of the two ex-detainees of Guantanamo Bay living in Ghana.
The Ghana government in January 2016 accepted transfer of two Yemeni ex-detainees – Mahmud Umar Muhammed Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby – from the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay into the country for a two-year period.
After the expiration of the contract in 2018, the Akufo-Addo government promised to relocate them.
Mr. Ablakwa, who is an opposition MP of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) wants the National Security Minister to inform Ghanaians about the whereabouts of the duo.
In an open letter to the minister, he said: “Respectfully, it is my considered view that after a full year of patiently waiting on Government, it is imperative that in this matter which is of enormous national interest, you provide an update to the Ghanaian people as Good Governance principles of transparency and accountability will demand.”
“It is my humble expectation that you will now provide the update requested with dispatch,” the former deputy minister of education added.
Below is his full open letter to the National Security Minister:
An Open Letter to the Honourable Minister Responsible for National Security
Hon. Albert Kan-Dapaah,
Minister for National Security,
Republic of Ghana.
24th January, 2019.
Dear Mr. Kan-Dapaah,
REQUEST FOR UPDATE ON THE TWO EX-DETAINEES OF GUANTANAMO BAY AND CONTINUOUS BREACH OF THE SECURITY AND INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES ACT, 1996 (ACT 526)
Kindly consider my warm compliments duly paid.
Today, the 24th of January, 2019 marks exactly one year since you joined your colleagues: the Honourable Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, the Interior and Defence, ostensibly to brief Parliament on the Government of Ghana’s position relating to the status of the two ex-detainees of Guantanamo Bay, Mahmud Umar Muhammed Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salid Al-Dhuby, following an expiration on 6th January, 2018, of the two year bi-lateral cooperation agreement between the Government of Ghana led by former President John Mahama and the Government of the United States of America led by former President Barack Obama.
Honourable Minister, as you will recall, your colleague Ministers and your good self made submissions to Parliament on that day to the effect that Government’s decision on the matter in issue is inconclusive. The Official Report of Parliamentary Debates on Wednesday 24th January, 2018 captures your remarks in this regard in column 85 as follows – “Mr. Speaker, I would want to urge Hon Members of the august House to consider the fact that this is a very important and delicate matter, can we take away the politics and unite to find an effective solution to it?”
In the same vein, the Foreign Minister told the House as captured in column 59 – “Mr. Speaker, accordingly, government is constrained to explore any other options at this time and will await an in depth examination of the matter by the appropriate agencies.”
Subsequently, a Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Charles Owiredu and the then Information Minister, Dr. Mustapha Hamid, are both on record to have told the media on the 25th and the 29th of January, 2018 respectively that the Akufo-Addo Administration is in talks with other countries to have the ex-detainees relocated from Ghana.
Respectfully, it is my considered view that after a full year of patiently waiting on Government, it is imperative that in this matter which is of enormous national interest, you provide an update to the Ghanaian people as Good Governance principles of transparency and accountability will demand.
It is my humble expectation that you will now provide the update requested with dispatch.
Honourable Minister, I should also bring to your attention your continuous breach of Section 17 (2) of the Security and Intelligence Agencies Act, 1996 (Act 526) which stipulates – “The Minister assigned responsibility under subsection (1) of this section shall in respect of each year submit a report to Parliament on the Intelligence Agencies.”
Sir, you have not complied with this provision since assuming the position of National Security Minister and thereby undermining Parliament’s Constitutional mandate of oversight.
As you are aware, I have consistently drawn your attention and brought to the awareness of Parliament through several statements on the floor this violation of the law. I have over the period consequently proceeded to file questions in Parliament seeking to urge you to provide answers to the House on your blatant violation of Act 526 without compunction especially under a President who consistently touts his rule of law credentials.
Having had all my Parliamentary efforts to get you to comply with the Securities and Intelligence Agencies Act, 1996 (Act526) ignored rather contemptuously, I hereby serve notice that if the situation remains the same 20 days after the 29th of January, 2019, resumption of Parliament, I shall proceed to our most esteemed courts to compel you to honour your obligations under Act 526.
I have come to this decision seeing that i have virtually exhausted all parliamentary processes. Besides, the current worsening insecurity situation which has attracted unprecedented domestic and international concern in the aftermath of the assassination of undercover journalist Ahmed Hussein-Suale, numerous cases of apparent contract killings, the circumstances of Nana Appiah Mensah’s escape from the jurisdiction and the kidnapping of the Takoradi ladies – all of these call for an urgent and unwavering commitment to our constitutional and legal obligations which as you know better than many of us are designed to guarantee our collective security.
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa
MP, North Tongu
Ranking Member, Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs