Times to intensify fight against cross-border crimes

One major international security concern in West Africa is cross -border crime.

The international community has been concerned, according to the United Nations that cross-border crimes in the West African sub region, posed a threat to the stability and development of the region.

Security experts have identified organised crimes such as oil bunkering, arms trafficking, human trafficking, migrant smuggling, toxic waste dumping, counterfeit medicine, cigarette smuggling and plundering of natural resources among others as major concerns.

These types of crimes are said to have started in the 1990s during the height of political unrest in a number of countries in West Africa.

Due to rebellious and civil wars, criminal gangs took advantage of the situation, formed networks across borders and have become well structured criminal gangs.

The cross-border crimes have become a serious violation to human security, social political stability and good governance which must be combated.

This, however, can be achieved through appropriate security, legal, political, economic, social and cultural strategies.

It is important though to note that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has developed few legal instruments and strategies which could prove relevant, however, they are still inadequately applied.

Indeed, the defence and security forces expected to enforce the laws are unable to harmonise their activities.

The situation has presented the criminals with a field’s day to indulge in massive cross-border crimes.

It is in this vein, that the Ghanaian Times supports the call by Ghana’s Chief Justice, Sophia A.B Akuffo, for the establishment of an international tribunal to expedite trials of cross-border crimes which do not fall within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

Describing the cross-border crimes as having devastating consequences on security in West Africa, the Chief Justice further asked for the expansion of the mandate of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights (ACJHR) and the Community Court of Justice of ECOWAS to deal with such crimes.

“Resorting to adhoc measures mostly do not inspire confidence in the people to achieve speedy investigations and expeditious trials,” she said.

Justice Akuffo who was speaking in Accra, last week at the opening of the just ended two-day Justice International Symposium, suggested that existing courts should be given jurisdiction over some of the cases.

She also called for early warning systems for member states on activities of criminal syndicates especially those relating to human trafficking, trafficking in arms and smuggling.

We urge member countries to give serious attention to the proposals by the Chief Justice as activities of the cross-border criminals are a major security threat to ECOWAS countries.

We call on citizens to continue to be vigilant and expose the criminals so as to make the region safe for all.

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