Gulf of Guinea countries urged to domesticate UNCLOS to enhance piracy fight

Captain Naa Ayeley Akwei-Aryee, the Director, Naval Legal Affairs, has urged Gulf of Guinea countries to domesticate the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to provide them enough enforcement power to successfully pros

Captain Naa Ayeley Akwei-Aryee

ecute pirates.

UNCLOS is the primary international legal treaty governing ocean use and governance, which provides a judicial forum for addressing issues of territorial demarcation and redressing disputes such as boundary delimitations.

Capt. Akwei-Aryee made the call in a lecture on the “Legal Frameworks” covering maritime activities, during a two-week Maritime Security and Transnational Organised Crime Course for 34 professionals from 13 Gulf of Guinea countries.

The course, which is the 15th Edition, is being organised by the Kofi Annan International Peace Keeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), in Teshie, Accra, with support from the German Government.

Currently, only a handful of countries, such as Togo and Nigeria, had put in laws that conformed to the UNCLOS and gave proper prosecution procedures to legally handle pirate activities.

She said it was worrying that because of the lack of domestication of conventions and other international laws, a country like Ghana had to hand pirates over to neighbouring countries for prosecution because she lacked the specific laws to effectively handle the proper prosecution of the act.

“Ghana’s Criminal Code of 1960 does not have enough provisions to carry out a full prosecution of pirates…it is important to domesticate the law; we must go beyond the ratification, as without that you have to charge them with another offence or transfer them to another country for trial,” she said.

UNCLOS-3 was opened for signature on December 10, 1982, entered into force on November 16, 1994, upon deposition of the 60th instrument of ratification, and has 168 parties ratifying it.

The UNCLOS, Captain Akwei-Aryee said, also advanced rule of law principles among maritime and landlocked nations through its 320 articles and 17 parts.

Capt. Isaac Ziem Aratuo, the Course Director, KAIPTC, giving an overview of the course, said there was a need for Gulf of Guinea countries to protect their maritime environments as they were endowed with many resources and benefits.

Security threats in the maritime space significantly affected ship owners, ports, maritime organisations, coastal communities, governments, academic institutions, and non-government organisations, among others.

He called for safeguarding, protection, monitoring through interagency and international collaborations, and effective information sharing on the maritime environment to fight those threats.

Source: GNA

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