Will GTMO Detainees 'Vanish?' Ghanaian Opposition Leaders Threatens New Transfers

By Cody M. Poplin
Thursday, January 28, 2016, 5:11 PM

The Guantanamo Bay diaspora, on a per capita basis, may be the most widespread in the world. Indeed, as the Obama administration makes a final push towards emptying the detention facility, the number of countries recieving former detainees has ballooned. The New York Times reports that 57 countries have now accepted GTMO detainees, while the Miami Herald notes that, of those, 24 nations have now accepted detainees who could not go home because of security conditions in their native countries. As one might expect, the policy of transferring detainees to places where they have no ties does not make former GTMO inmates happy. Most recently, Mohammed Ali Abdullah Bwazir balked at his transfer conditions, saying that he had no family in the country where he was headed and electing to stay put in GTMO.

Officials and Mr. Bwazir's attorney have not said where he was slated to be transferred. But if it was Ghana, time will tell whether he made the right choice, given a recent news story out of the country.

In early January, the Obama administration transferred Sandi-born Yemenis Khalid al Dhuby and Mahmoud Omar Bin Atef to Ghana — the first transfer to a sub-Saharan African country. Following their transfer, the Pentagon released a statement calling Ghana’s agreement to take the two men a “humanitarian gesture” which came with “appropriate security and humane treatment measures.” It appears some in Ghana are rethinking a least one of those assurances — those it's unclear which.

The acceptance of GTMO detainees has frequently raised political opposition in host countries. But the recent rhetoric of Ghanaian opposition leader Nana Obiri Boahen may be the most troubling. According to reports from the Hill.

A political opposition leader in Ghana is warning that two Guantanamo Bay detainees recently transferred to that country will "vanish" if that party comes to power, according to a local media report.

The deputy general secretary of the opposition New Patriotic Party, Nana Obiri Boahen, during a recent radio interview called the move by Ghanan President John Mahama "wrong and dangerous," according to GhanaWeb.

Boahen also accused Mahama of pocketing money from the U.S. in exchange for the transfer. Mahama said he took in the detainees after a direct request by the U.S. government and that "no monetary consideration was made to us," according to the Associated Press.

The Obama administration transferred two Yemeni detainees to Ghana earlier this month — the first detainees to come to sub-Saharan Africa. The detainees are slated to stay in that country for two years before going on to Yemen. Current U.S. law prohibits transferring detainees to Yemen due to the country's precarious security situation.

It's not clear what, exactly, "will vanish" implies. Is the threat intended to violate the humane treatment assurances by killing or otherwise harming the detainees? Or is it meant to undercut security guarantees and mean the detainees will simply be released? We will have to wait and see if these threats prove concrete — and whether Mr. Bwazir passed on a brutal end or a get out of jail free card.