Refugee status for Gitmo 2 came as a shock – US Ambassador

United States Ambassador to Ghana says he was surprised to learn from the government of Ghana that the two former Guantanamo Bay detainees have been granted refugee status.

Robert Jackson denies the US government was not consulted before the refugee status was accorded the two former terror suspects.

 He was speaking to journalists shortly after addressing students of the Wa campus of the University for Development Studies on Ghana-USA relationship and scholarship opportunities for students.

“I did not know until this week that they have been granted a refugee status. That came as much of a surprise to me as all of you. However, that decision just gives them certain rights and if the government of Ghana wishes to relocate them to a third country, they need to discuss that with the two refugees under the international law.

“We have no role in that and no objection to it. At this point we consider it as a matter between the government of Ghana and the two”, he said.

According to him, even though they were providing for the upkeep of Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby, the US government had no idea they had been given refugee status.

He indicates that the US government did a thorough screening to be certain they were not terrorists.

The two former Guantanamo Bay detainees have been in Ghana for the past two years as part of a deal between the John Mahama-led administration in 2016 and the US during Barack Obama’s Presidency.

There have been calls for the two to be repatriated but Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, disclosed that that cannot happen because the two are now protected by international conventions about the handling of refugees.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, when they were in opposition, strongly opposed the agreement that brought the two former detainees to Ghana.

Many Ghanaians were hoping the current NPP administration will send them back.

It has been widely speculated that the presence of the two in the country was bad for Ghana’s security.