Ghana president defends decision to accept two Yemenis from Guantanamo

Published January 12th, 2016 - 05:00 GMT
The US military prison is seen in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where two Yemeni prisoners have been released and resettled in Ghana. (File photo)
The US military prison is seen in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where two Yemeni prisoners have been released and resettled in Ghana. (File photo)

Ghanaian president John Mahama defended Tuesday his country's decision to accept two Yemenis who have been released from the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, saying criticisims and fear from Christian leaders were unfounded, Reuters reported.

After more than a decade in Guantanamo, Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih al-Dhuby were transferred to Ghana, according to the US Defense Department and the Ghana government.

Their arrival has been met with some pushback from Christian leaders in the country, who say their presence poses a threat to national security. Ghana's main opposition party, the New Patriotic Party, said the government should have consulted more broadly before accepting Bin Atef and al-Dhuby.

President Mahama maintains that the men pose no threat and will continue to be monitored. Ghana is receiving no financial compensation from the US for accepting the pair, however, the US will provide Ghana with information about people entering the country who pose potential threats.

Bin Atef and al-Dhuby will live on a national security compound and will be accompanied by a chaperone wherever they go.

"Any Ghanaian is more in danger of dying from a road accident than from these Guantanamo detainees ... They just want to pick up the pieces of their lives and live normally. We don't have anything to fear," Mahama said in a press conference.

"Guantanamo has been a blot on the human rights record of the world," he continued.

Ghana is a peaceful country, but concerns about security have increased due to the relative proximity of Boko Haram, a militant group in Nigeria.

The two Yemeni men, who were never convicted of a crime, spoke on national radio late Monday, stating their desire to rebuild their lives in the west African country.


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