The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration has, by a statement released to the public January 6, 2015, announced the ‘importation’ by appeal some detainees and/or refugees from various parts of the world. Three categories of ‘importees’ are involved: from Guantanamo; from Syria; and from Rwanda. In each of these categories, the justification centres on humanitarianism and international obligation. Yes, Ghana as a member of the United Nations and of the world community has an obligation towards the humanitarian aspects of peace and security.
Thus when there are situations that demand accepting refugees etc., Ghana is obliged to offer support. But it must be emphasized that the obligation is not a legally-binding one. It is only a moral one. Ghana has in the past, demonstrated this by accepting refugees from the sub-region – Sierra Leone, Togo, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, etc. Normally, a country wanting to accept refugees and/or stateless persons would consider the impacts – economic, political, and especially security. Of course, there is one other dimension – international prestige (the thought that the world would applaud a country’s humanitarian credentials) The Nordic countries have always led in this last consideration.
The current decision to accept persons from the three categories noted above raises a number of questions. Government is trying to say that we have an obligation to assist. But we say that that obligation is only a moral one. Are we in any competition with other countries in this moral race? Why Ghana? Government is saying that those from Rwanda feel that the situation in Rwanda is not conducive for their return? Strange! Yes the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has wound up its sittings and residual matters about convicts and ex-convicts need to be sorted out. By the Gacaca system that Rwanda itself established in dealing with the genocide, Rwanda is now about the most peaceful country in Africa, save that its borders, especially with D.R Congo is still threatened by rebels. The Syrian ‘importees’ make interesting reading! Why should Ghana be part of the solution to the problem created by the US and NATO’s desire to support regime change in Syria? The efflux from the war-torn Middle East is now a problem, especially for Europe and the US. The US took in only 100,000 and then there was a massacre (allegedly commuted by Muslim fundamentalists) in the US.
The US, which had promised to settle about 800,000 refugees, has halted the process. Donald Trump, a US presidential aspirant has vowed never to allow anybody of Middle East extraction and specifically a Muslim on to American soil, if elected President. The story that there are Syrian nationals in Ghana and that these immigrants would be accommodated by the latter is not here nor there. Aren’t there Syrian nationals domiciled in the US and elsewhere, who could have done same? In all these, it is the third category of importees that raise more eyebrows. When our Column got wind of this last year we warned and alerted the public on the US ploy ‘to buy’ some governments in Africa to help them solve the problem of Guantanamo inmates. Our piece was entitled: ‘Resolving the Guantanamo Puzzle: Let the Dead Bury Their Dead!’ and published in the Ghanaian Times of May 8, 2015. There we gave the background to Guantanamo and linked it with the current problematic situation. Below are excerpts from that publication. We are just sad that Ghanaians did not join us in warning the government enough.
“The desire to liquidate Guantanamo has been seriously discussed both in official US circles and throughout the world. It was part of the chips in the period affectionately dubbed ‘the Special Period or Decade (1992-2000), when President Bill Clinton had several negotiations with Cuba on how to normalize relations. Guantanamo was one of the campaign pledges of President Barack Obama in 2008. It is also at the centre of negotiations as the US seeks to normalize relations with Cuba, the latter categorically asking for the transfer of the Bay back to Cuba. But there is one major problem – the question of the inmates still being held in there. Washington has sought frantically to minimize the political outfall of the Guantanamo scandal, especially after the publication by the Senate Intelligence Committee in December 2004 indicating the use of torture (including water boarding) to extract information from detainees. That was scandalous! That the apostles and champions of Human Rights and Democracy would themselves be that inhuman, abusing the rights of inmates, using means that even Hitler was unenthused to apply, is to say the least, very deplorable and abhorrent. It is this scandal that has placed the US in the most uncomfortable situation with regards to the inmates and the closure of Guantanamo. These inmates cannot be sent to the mainland (the US) for trial. They would go scot free. Neither can they be kept there forever. And while Cuba is using the Bay as a bargaining chip in discussions with Washington on the normalization of relationships, and the world, as well as public opinion in the US, keep pressurizing the Obama administration to end it all, speculations are that the Obama administration will look for willing collaborating countries to accept the inmates. Unconfirmed and/or anecdotal evidence has it that the US has already approached a number of countries to accept the inmates, probably in exchange for some “fee”. We are inclined to believe such a move, because it has been done before. The late Qaddafi was made to accept some such “bad guys”, captured in Pakistan in the war against the Taliban, in exchange for toning down on the verbal attacks on his person and government. These guys were put in prison in Benghazi. Incidentally, they were the first to be released to join the uprising that eventually toppled Qaddafi. It is in this vein that this Column would want to advise African leaders to beware. “Let the dead bury their dead”, Jesus is famed to have admonished. Let the Americans deal with their problems!”
This was what we wrote some several months ago. Our government has kotowed to the pressure from the US and it is dangerous. If it is not for some political and or economic reward, as was the case with Qaddafi (as stated above), then what the hell is the compelling circumstance that would make Ghana toy with the idea of hosting persons declared as ‘terrorists’ and held in detention without trial for close to a decade? Why did Saudi Arabia not accept them, if Yemen is in turmoil? Why was no European country ready to accommodate these grossly feared ‘combatants? Where are they going to be held? As free men or in continued detention? And what next, after hosting them for two years in Ghana? The government owes Ghanaians very serious explanations, especially as the so-called detainees from Guantanamo and other refugees being discussed are alleged to have already arrived in the country.