Accra (Ghana), 26 November 2020 — UNODC’s Global Maritime Crime Programme (GMCP) —in collaboration with INTERPOL and with the support of the of the United States Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL)— has conducted a simulated trial for a maritime piracy case in Ghana, as part of its overall criminal justice reform work in the country.
Such events seek to highlight gaps in the current legal framework — before criminals benefit from them. Inconsistencies in the legal code can thwart efforts to prosecute piracy cases, limit access to justice for the damaged parties and enable impunity for the accused.
The simulated proceedings highlighted the clear need for the revision of Section 193 of the Ghanaian legal code to align with the UNCLOS definition, or in its stead, the adoption of broader legislation that would encompass piracy as well as other maritime offences.
Ghanaian Prosecutors, trained by UNODC, played prosecution and defense roles in front of Ghanaian judges. A witness cross-examination was recreated with Ghanaian maritime law enforcement officials who were trained by INTERPOL.
The intense pace of the exchanges allowed participants to test both the strength of current legislation and of their own legal reasoning skills, while keeping physical distancing and using COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE).
Part of the simulation was also conducted online, allowing participants to practice using IT tools and recreating a judicial environment online.
UNODC in cooperation with INTERPOL —with the ongoing support of the United States’ INL— will continue implementing mock trials as part of this successful joint initiative, which has already benefitted judicial staff in Nigeria, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, and Ghana.