The Supreme Court has ordered the Attorney General’s Department to make an in-camera presentation to the Court, the agreement between Government of Ghana and the United States of America Government warranting the resettlement of two ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees.
The SC’s orders follow an interlocutory application by plaintiffs for Government of Ghana to produce the agreement which brought the two men, Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby, into the country.
The A-G’s Department, which was represented in Court Wednesday by Acting Solicitor General, Helen Ziwu, informed the court that there was no formal or written agreement between Ghana and the US before the two ex-Al Qaeda militants were accepted into the country.
According to her, there was however a diplomatic exchange of notes with no legal backing ahead of the two being flown into Ghana.
Not satisfied with the explanation, the apex court granted the application and ordered the A-G’s Department to produce the agreement in camera at the next sitting, which is slated for July 6, 2016.
The A-G’s Department was forced to make an appearance in court Wednesday after the nine panel of judges threatened to rule on the case if the Department fails to be present again.
The Court had on Tuesday descended heavily on the A-G’s Department for failing once again to appear before it to defend the writ filed against the state on the resettlement of the two ex-Guantanamo detainees in the country.
To this end, Mr. Justice William Atuguba, president of the five-member panel of Judges, declared that the court would proceed to hear the case despite the delay tactics employed by the AG’s department.
He said that, he did not understand why Mr. Sylvester Williams, Chief State Attorney and the representative of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice who was in court at the last adjourned date, failed to appear yesterday without assigning any reasons for his absence.
He, therefore, told Mrs. Dorothy Afriyie-Ansah, a Chief State Attorney who played the “Devil’s Advocate” that the court would go ahead to hear the case regardless of the inaction of the State prosecutors, and adjourned the case to today (Wednesday).
“In view of the importance of the issue involved, the court has reluctantly adjourned the case to tomorrow (Wednesday) for the Attorney-General Department, to put its house in order.
“In default, the court will proceed: You are here so you are at our service”, Justice Atuguba told Mrs. Afriyie-Ansah who made fruitless attempts to save her colleague, Mr. Sylvester Williams.
A panel member, Mrs Justice Sophia Akuffo who did not take kindly to the conduct of the AG’s Department said “I will continue to comment on the shabby manner you are representing the people of Ghana.
“The only Ministry that is mentioned in the 1992 Constitution, is that of the Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General, and the sooner the matter is laid to rest in one way or the other, the better”.
The Supreme Court was scheduled to hear a motion filed by Nana Agyei Baffour Awuah, counsel for the two plaintiffs, Mrs. Margaret Banful and Henry Nana Boakye, asking the court to order the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice together with the Minister of the Interior to produce the Diplomatic Agreement signed between the two countries.
According to the lawyer, his clients (plaintiffs) thought the unilateral decision of President John Dramani Mahama to have accepted these two former “terrorists”, into the country without recourse to Parliament was unconstitutional and a breach of Article 75 of the 1992 Constitution
The AG’s Department has filed its statement of case in opposition to the writ filed by Mrs. Margaret Banful and Henry Nana Boakye, calling for the deportation of the “Gitmo 2” from Ghana since their continuous stay threatened national security.
Before Justice Atuguba could adjourn the case to today, Nana Baffuor Awuah drew the court’s attention to the conduct of the AG’s Department which had culminated in the delay in hearing the case.
The court action by the two Ghanaians came at a time when there was a high public uproar over President Mahama’s decision to host the two former terror suspects.
Many Ghanaians say they pose a threat to national security, a claim both governments (Ghana and the United States) have denied.