Thursday, 14 January 2016


The serious issue that has made the headlines for the past week has been the acceptance of two Guantanamo detainees by the Government of Ghana.

Many are of the view that it is improper for the Government to accept them especially in an election year. Some postulated that perhaps the Government might have accepted some money from the United States Government. There is also one school of thought which thinks that these people are linked to ISIL or Al Qaeda for that matter accepting them is a means of jeopardising the security of the country. The last group thinks that perhaps there should have been wider consultation with parliament, political parties, religious bodies and other stakeholders in the country before making such a decision.

I am tempted to be on the side of the last school of thought but on a second thought, I realized that that would had been a wasted effort because never will there be an agreement on the modus operandi to be used in this case. A lot of time will be used but there may never be an agreement, and maybe the tax payers’ money may be used to feed the ‘stakeholders’. It will again defeat the purpose of having a Government that must act on our behalf and ultimately our interest, nationally and internationally. This is not declaration of war where the President must at all cost consult parliament. We are operating with structures, we have a system in place.

As is well known, Ghana is noted for serving as a home for people who are ‘distressed’ out of conditions beyond their control. I believe that as a country in the comity of Nations, we cannot pretend that issues that affect other people from other countries do not concern us.

I understand how challenging it is for us to accept the detainees from one of the prisons that is noted for harbouring people termed as ‘medium or high risk prisoners’ at this point in history where religious mis-education and extremism has led to loss of precious lives and property but I would also like to remind us that all the people we have helped in the past, all the problems we have helped in solving in the past, there were other countries which could equally help but we did, there were other risks associated with the challenges but we looked over them, fought and became victorious.

We have always led the way when it comes to making sure some form of comfort is provided to others in Africa. We led the fight for independence in Sub Sahara Africa, our support helped in fighting against apartheid in South Africa, we helped in the fight against Ebola. We are known for our hospitality and christened as the citadel of democracy in Africa. While we were fighting for all the above, we were never immune from other problems, we had our domestic problems ranging from political to economic. But we know very well that in today’s world we are citizens of the comity of nations rather than just that of our country. We continuously support the global fight towards making the world a better place first because we know that a better world means, a better Ghana, we also know that Ghanaians are found almost everywhere in the world, legally or illegally. As a Youth Ambassador, everywhere I have been, I have met Ghanaians. Some have been working in such countries illegally for decades. Some have complained to me how the countries in which they are, are threatening to deport them but cannot do that because of the respect they have for Ghana and Ghanaians.

The most surprisingly group of people in this matter to is the Christian Council and the Catholic Bishops Conference. It is pathetic that our religious organizations which used to be epitome of peace, compassion and love, are gradually becoming like any ordinary organization. If the church thinks that a group of people due to their being seen or perceived as ‘medium or high risk prisoners’ do not deserve love, compassion and mercy, then where do we find solace in times of distress? Assuming without admitting that these people are linked to ISIL or Al Qaeda one do not believe that our religious leaders have any justification, legally or morally to speak the way they did and to continuously defend their stance especially when they were met by the Foreign Affairs Minister to further clarify issues to them in relation to what went into accepting the detainees.

I am afraid our religious organizations are beginning to do the work of civil society organizations. My utmost fear however is that, if care is not taken, they will end up drawing a battle line between the two major religious bodies since there is a religious undertone to the issue. We have always co-existed in peace before the coming of religion and must not do anything to divide us consciously or unconsciously. Good leadership also means knowing what to say at any point in time, when to say it, how to say it and where to say it.

In any case, according to reports, 668 prisoners in totally have been transferred to 56 countries including Britain, Uganda, Cape Verde, Algeria, Pakistan, Morocco, Kuwait, Sudan, France, Russia, United Arab Emirates, Germany, Turkey, Swaziland, Belgium, Libya, Portugal, Australia, Tunisia, Italy, Canada, Egypt among others. Arguably, some of the above mentioned countries have stronger security system than we have, but we also have stronger security system than others. The bottom line is, this is an issue that has assumed international dimension, we should not by any means behave as if we are the most ‘clean’ country or the country with the greatest fear in the world, it will also be out of place to behave as if we are an island. Peace, Security and Justice Issues no matter how small they are deserve the attention of every country.

The whole issue has been blown out of proportion. It is important to make the point that governance is a serious business and the earlier we stop doing partisan-politics with everything the better it will be for us. Governance is a global product born out of civilization. Apart from the fact that it is meant to give citizens the needed voice, it also need leaders who are decisive to lead with tact, wisdom, knowledge, experience and skill. Leaders who will take decisions that are mostly not popular but will go a long way to help in building a better country and a better world. We have always stood with the world in moments like this, we have fought together and won battles before, we have shared in other people and other countries agonies, we have also rejoiced together as comity of nations, this is certainly not the time to renege on our position in the world.

The detainees are already in the country, and those who understand internationally diplomacy will tell you that if it is not practically impossible it will be nearly impossible to take them back. In essence, the only option we have now is to ensure that there is proper security so that even if they will be a threat to our peace and security they do not get the chance to do so. I believe we have what it takes to ensure that we are protected as a country.

We must not by any means spark fear in ourselves or other people which may go a long way to prevent well-meaning citizens from going about their daily duties as expected, for as a Country we know very well that everyone, no matter how they are perceived or known to be deserves some form of compassion.

Prosper Dzitse is Ghana’s Youth Ambassador to the Commonwealth Youth Council and a Global Youth Crusader.

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