Hostage negotiators from 6 countries in Accra to build capacity

Twenty-Five Kidnap investigators and hostage release negotiators from six African countries have converged on Accra, to build their capacity to counter such criminal activities, in their respective countries.

Drawn from law enforcement agencies in Ghana, Niger, Togo, Benin, Mali, and Burkina Faso they are attending the three-week training which opened yesterday at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Centre.

Under the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) Kidnap for Ransom (KFR) project, it aims at strengthening national response of law enforcement agencies in preventing and combating kidnapping, and increasing the interoperability with international partners.

Expert trainers from the United Kingdom National Crime Agency and the Switzerland Federal Police would take them through courses including kidnap management and hostage negotiation based on the 2021 UNOCT manual of guidance for countering kidnapping and extortion.

An attaché at the Embassy of Switzerland in Ghana, Tim Segessemann, in a speech delivered on behalf of Ambassador Philipp Stalder said countering kidnapping was a central tenet of his country’s foreign security policy.

 As such, he said, the country had been leading the development of international standards in relation to kidnap for ransom offences for close to two decades.

He said the course would provide future hostage negotiators with a comprehensive understanding of the skills they need including communication skills which was key in implementing the UNOCT Manual.

The Manual, he said, ascribes paramount importance not just to the needs of victims during negotiations, but also underscores the value of addressing the needs of the local agencies on the ground.

“Tensions are on the rise across the sub-region; along with them comes the risk of an increase in kidnapping incidents. To counter this threat will demand common, coordinated efforts,” he said.

The First Secretary, Head of Upstream threats campaigns in Ghana and Cyber Attaché- Foreign- Commonwealth and Development Office of UK, Felix Wood, said the training was critical to enhancement of security in the region.

He said it would enable participants to acquire modern skills and be abreast of international standards to enable them effectively nip the kidnap for ransom crimein the bud for the safety of all.

He said the UK was committed to security in the beneficiary countries and had therefore partnered organisers of the event with the hope that it yields the desired results.  

BY JONATHAN DONKOR

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