Bringing GITMO detainees to Ghana was unconstitutional - Supreme Court

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

The Supreme Court has declared that the transfer of the two Guantanamo Bay (GITMO) ex-detainees to Ghana was unconstitutional.

In a 6-1 majority decision on Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that the President should have sought Parliamentary ratification before accepting the two detainees, reports Graphic Online's Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson, who was in court on Thursday morning.

According to the court, the acceptance of the two detainees without Parliamentary ratification contravened Article 75 of the 1992 Constitution.

The majority decision was read by the Chief Justice, Ms Justice Sophia Abena Boadoa Akuffo.

Justice William Atuguba however dissented, Ebo Hawkson reported.

The transfer of two detainees, Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih of Yemeni origin to Ghana, from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba in 2014 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.

Many argued that the Government of Ghana’s decision to accept the two, believed to have ties to Al Qaeda was unconstitutional. 

The agreement between Ghana and the US Government and the subsequent transfer was unknown to the public until a media publication in the United States leaked it.

The US government explained that the transfer was in line with its policy to reduce the detainee population at Guantanamo and to close the detention facility “in a responsible manner”.

It explained while the US would have loved to repatriate the detainees to their home countries, in some cases, the most viable option was to resettle them in a third country.

Two Ghanaians, Margaret Bamful and Henry Nana Boakye then sued the Attorney General and Minister of Justice as well as the Minister of Interior, accusing government of illegally bringing in the two former Gitmo detainees, without recourse to the laws of the land.

The two plaintiffs sought a true and proper interpretation of Article 75 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, and argued that the President of the Republic of Ghana acted unconstitutionally by agreeing to the transfer of Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby.

The United States Government detained the two for 14 years after being linked with the terrorist group Al-Qaeda.

The Supreme Court on Thursday morning issued consequential orders that stated the Government of Ghana should take the agreement that brought the two to Ghana to Parliament for ratification within three months.

The court said, if government fails to do that, then it should send the ex-detainees back to the United States since they were aliens in Ghana.

Read also: Send GITMO ex-detainees back in 3 months if ... - Supreme Court

Writer's email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Follow @enochfrimpong