A three-day workshop to discuss Ghana’s obligation, under the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1373 on freezing or seizure of assets of terrorists and money launderers for the purposes of preventing and suppressing terrorism and financing of terrorists acts, is underway in Accra.
The UNSCR 1373 (2001), was to combat acts of terrorism by placing barriers to movement, organizing and funding of terrorist groups.
The programme which started on Monday is organized by the Inter Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), in association with The United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (UNCTED) with participants drawn from the five-English-speaking Western African countries, namely; Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and The Gambia.
Participants at the end of the workshop, are expected to come out with measures which can be adopted by member countries to completely dismantle the activities of terrorists and money launderers in this part of Africa.
Organizers say, programmes such as these, became necessary after the September 11 terrorists attack on the United States of America (USA) and most especially the active operations of Nigeria’s terrorist sect; Boko Haram and Ansar Dine in Mali.
The Minister of the Interior, Kwesi Ahwoi, said West Africa has the potential of becoming a terrorist region if conscious efforts are not made to destroy terrorist sects on the continent.
He said, terrorist sects operating in the sub-region including, Asar Dine in Mali and Boko Haram in Nigeria, were reminders that the West African region was not insulated from terrorism.
Mr. Ahwoi, made the observation in a speech read on his behalf by his Deputy, James Agalga, at a Regional Workshop on Asset-Freezing Requirements of the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNCR) 1373 (2001).
Participants from Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Gambia, are taking part in the three-day workshop.
The Minister said, globalization had made all countries no less immune to the threats of money laundering and terrorism, saying that, Ghana was not an exception and called for international and regional cooperation in focusing more attention to the security threats of the respective countries.
Mr. Ahwoi, pointed out that a study conducted by GIABA in 2011 to rate the compliance level of member states with the UNSCR 1373, indicated either partial compliance or non-compliance.
He said: “However, efforts have been made by member states to enact laws and adopt other measures to conform to international standards in dealing with terrorism.
“Ghana on her part made some strides in 2008 by enacting the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2008 (Act 762) and proceeded further to amend this Act by enacting the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Act, 2012 (Act 842) to conform to the international best practices. The Anti-Terrorism Regulations, 2012 (L.I. 2181) was also enacted to operationalize Act 842.”
According to him, other legislations enacted included the Immigration (Amendment) Act, 2012 (Act 848), Criminal offences (Amendment) Act, 2012 (Act 849) and the Economic and Organized Crime office (Operations) Regulations, 2012 (L.I. 2183), as well as E.I. 2, (2013).
The Minister said, those laws demonstrated Ghana’s commitment to the fight against money laundering, financing of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and other transnational organized crimes.
Mr. Ahwoi, stressed the need for international support and the establishment of network of intelligence sharing, consistent with Asset Recovery Interagency Network (ARIN) of the European Union and ARINSA in the Southern Africa region.
He noted that unfortunately, the West African sub region was the only region in the world that was yet to have such an arrangement in place.
“I therefore admonish GIABA to expeditiously liaise with other development partners like United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), and United Nations Counter Terrorism Executive Direction (UNCTED) to have one in place,” he said.
The Minister noted that there were few challenges that bedeviled Ghana on its fight against terrorism in the country and probably on the sub region as well.
These challenges, he said, included lack of international and regional cooperation in the sub-region and frustrations regarding mutual legal assistance requests from some of the international partners, the use of cash in transacting businesses in the sub region which makes it difficult to track suspected terrorists and money launderers.
The rest are the lack of coordination and cooperation among law enforcement agencies with its attendant turf wars and unwillingness to share intelligence.
He, therefore, assured the participants of Ghana’s preparedness to collaborate and support other member states in fighting such crimes and other transnational organised crimes.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Financial Intelligence Centre, Mr Samuel Thompson Essel said, the workshop was a platform and opportunity to strike acquaintances for effective domestic inter-agency, as well as regional cooperation.
He urged participants to build the necessary confidence and trust in one another, through interactions to lay necessary foundations for cooperation and coordination for the effort and resolve to defeat terrorism in the sub-region and the world at large.