President of the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA), Affail Monney has said Ghanaians have every right to scrutinise government’s acceptance of two former detainees from the Guantanomo Bay.
He said although government’s hand was tied and it could not have refused a request from the US, the interest of Ghanaians should be paramount.
Government must now, regardless of its decision find a balance between the interest of America as an ally and the supreme interest of the people of Ghana, Dr Monney reiterated.
“I believe government was prompted by the need to do some rational calculations in view of the special relationship it has with the US, so it was very difficult for it to say no to the request to take on board the detainees from Guantanamo Bay.
However, “at the same time, the government must listen to the people because they have a say in the running of this country,” he told Luv FM’s Erastus Asare Donko during an end-of year get-together for members of the Ashanti Regional branch of the Association in the Kumasi.
Government’s decision to accept two Guantanamo Bay detainees in the country for two years has been sharply criticized by many.
The two – Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby – have been in detention for 14 years after being picked up in Afghanistan and suspected to have been linked to the terrorist group Al-Qaeda.
Most commentators including the clergy have demanded the two suspects be repatriated to their home country, Yemen, because they pose a threat to Ghanaians.
However, government and its spokespersons have sternly defended their decision, saying the ex-prisoners pose no threat.
Dr Monney said government now needs to determine what is most paramount to it – the needs of the citizenry or its relationship with the US.
He also encouraged the media to continue drumming home the wishes of the citizenry since it is the core of its duties.
He said discussions on the matter cannot be overestimated.
“Ours [the media] is to reflect happenings in society so if the people continue to make noise, we cannot sweep their noise under the carpet.”
On the debate over the introduction of regulations to streamline media content, Dr Monney said the issue has been twisted.
“Standards in certain sections of the media are abysmal so I believe this prompted the National Media Commission to introduce the regulations but its seems these regulations are being subjected to all twists and turns.
“Whilst we enjoy the latitude to do our work, there is the need for us to square what we do with the constitutional provisions to ensure that we don’t offend national security, national morality and public order,” he stressed.