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Adopt piracy law to enhance maritime security efforts – Denmark urges Ghana

Denmark has urged Ghana to finalise and adopt its “Maritime and Related Offences” Bill that would allow the prosecution of criminals apprehended at sea for piracy and other maritime crimes.

The Danish Ambassador to Ghana, Tom Nørring, in an interview, emphasised the importance of a legal framework to deal with maritime crimes, highlighting that the lack of such legislation in Ghana hindered its ability to effectively combat piracy and other maritime crimes.

The ambassador pointed out that Denmark was already supporting Ghana, Nigeria and other Gulf of Guinea states to establish a national maritime strategy.

Denmark’s contribution to maritime security is over DKK200 million ($28 million) through the Danish Maritime Security Programme for the Gulf of Guinea (DMSP III), a five-year project spanning 2022-2026.

However, he stressed the need for a legal framework to complement these efforts. Mr Nørring underscored Ghana’s adoption of a robust maritime security strategy as a critical step towards establishing a strong legal framework to combat piracy and other maritime crimes in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) maritime domain.

Effective collaboration

The importance of a legal framework, Mr Nørring said, went beyond prosecution, as it allowed Ghana to collaborate more effectively with international partners such as Denmark, which had already sent its frigate into Ghana and the Gulf of Guinea (GoG)’s waters to support the fight against piracy and other maritime crimes.

The Danish ambassador maintained that international cooperation was crucial for countries in the GoG to ensure a unified response to the common challenge of maritime crime. The ambassador also highlighted the economic impact of piracy, citing a Norwegian-funded study by Stable Seas in 2021, underscoring the urgency for Ghana and other Gulf of Guinea coastal nations to take decisive action.

The report states that GoG coastal states lose approximately $1.4 billion per annum in potential port revenue/fees due to reduced maritime traffic caused by piracy. It also highlighted the financial and human costs to GoG states with far-reaching consequences that contributed to increasing poverty levels within the region, which the report said was home to 242 million people living below the United Nations’ “extreme poverty” threshold of $1.90 income per person per day.

The cost of piracy, Mr Nørring stated, had far-reaching economic consequences for coastal nations, which, he said, could stem from a decrease in maritime traffic, as shipping companies become wary of operating in a region with a high risk of attacks.

“When you look at the cost of piracy, you see the impact on traffic as vessels are understandably hesitant to engage in trade with coastal states due to the threat of piracy – and this hesitation to enter the region disrupts trade, hindering economic growth and development for these nations,” Mr Nørring said.

The ambassador recounted that Nigeria adopted the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Bill in 2019, which gave effect to the provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 1988 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, making Nigeria the first country in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) to declare a standalone law against piracy.

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