Government intends to amend the country’s piracy laws to make them more punitive after the recent kidnapping of five expatriates on a Ghanaian fishing vessel.
Addressing a stakeholders’ forum to discuss the Criminal Offences Amendment Bill in Accra, the Director General of the Ghana Maritime Authority, MR Thomas Kofi Alonsi emphasized the need to strengthen the laws to punish piracy offences in a bid to combat the rising threat.
“Several piracy attacks have occurred in Ghana’s maritime jurisdiction over the last few years for instance, we have had incidents, where the attacks took place in neighboring countries, but the hijacked vessels were brought into the Ghana’s waters,” he said.
“The situation calls for an overhaul of our legal framework as the criminals and their international backers have the money and motivation to exploit any lacuna in our laws,” he added.
In the first three months of 2021, the International maritime bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) reported thirty-three (33) vessels boarded, two (2) attempted attacks, two (2) vessels fired upon, and one (1) vessel hijacked.
Despite a drop in the number of reported piracy incidents for First Quarter of 2021, violence against crew is on the rise in comparison to previous years. Since the start of 2021, forty (40) crew have been kidnapped as compared to twenty-two (22) crew in the First Quarter of 2020.
A crew member was actually killed in the First Quarter of 2021.
Acting Director ECOWAS Multinational Maritime Coordination Centre, Commander Yussif Benning expressed worry over current condition, stressing that the recent piratical attack on a Ghanaian flagged fishing vessel, Atlantic princess was a clear demonstration of how threat is getting close to the Ghana’s territorial waters.
He called for a concerted effort to deal with the menace by activating the maritime domain awareness, putting structures and tools in place and strong laws to punish culprits.
Maritime industry experts and practitioners met to deliberates on draft amendment bill with the piracy provision of ACT 29.
The act to amend sections 193 and 194 of the criminal offences act, 1960 was to bring the criminalization of the offence of piracy in Ghana in conformity with article 101 of the united nation convention on the law of sea (unclos)
It is expected that the bill is passed by parliament and assented to by the president.
Lead consultant at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Senior Lecturer of UPSA, Capt(GN) Rtd Dr. Kamal -Deen Ali said the definition of piracy under section 193 and 194 of Ghana’s Criminal and other Offences Act, 1960 is completely obsolete and inconsistent and incapable of helping Ghana counter the threat posed by the scourge.
The forum was funded by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and partnered by the Ghana Maritime Authority.
By Josephine Antwi Adjei|3news.com|Ghana