Developing an effective response to foreign terrorist fighters in Ghana

04-11-2020

ACCRA   Foreign terrorist fighters pose an urgent and growing threat to international peace and security.  Their activities can increase the intensity, duration and unpredictability of conflicts. Not only do they pose a serious threat to their countries of origin, the countries through which they transit and the countries to which they travel, but to States neighbouring zones of armed conflict where those fighters are active as well. 

Many fighters leave their homes with no intention of returning and instead do so with the intention of starting a new life, building a new “State” or dying for the cause they came for in the conflict zone. Not all return as terrorists, and many return precisely because they have become disillusioned and no longer wish to participate in armed conflict. However, those who do return may have been exposed to extreme violence, sophisticated training and battlefield experience.

A small number of returning foreign terrorist fighters, therefore, pose a very significant threat to international peace and security. UNODC held a national workshop on “Good practices for a national effective response to the foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) phenomenon” from 28-29 October 2020, in Accra for law enforcement and criminal justice officials from Ghana.

Around 20 participants from the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of National Security, Ministry of Defence, Ghana Immigration Services and the CounterTerrorism Unit took part in the workshop with experts from UNODC/TPB as well as regional and international organisations.

Mr Kodjo Mawuto, Director of the National Border Fusion Center, acknowledged UNODC's crucial role in supporting Member States in their fight against terrorism and stressed that the issue of the FTF is a crucial issue for Ghana, a country in a region particularly affected by the terrorism phenomenon.

 

Staffed by more than 20 analysts from multiple border-related agencies, the Border Fusion Center aims to compliment interagency coordination to allow the government to synchronize its efforts and serves as an information-sharing hub for border security to facilitate informed rapid decision-making.

He further indicated that the workshop has encouraged Ghana in its fight against terrorism and has provided new perspectives to the country on how to organize its efforts in this area. Thanking UNODC in his closing statements he encouraged the UNODC to continue organizing counter-terrorism training in the future.

The security situation in West Africa and the Sahel has continued to deteriorate, suffering from a recurring complex phenomenon of terrorism, in particular in Burkina Faso, Mali, the Niger and Nigeria which is increasingly threatening West African coastal States.

In West Africa, there has been an increase in the number of relocating fighters from other regions in order to join terrorist groups operating in the area.

These combatants benefit from the priority given by the security forces and the army to health and humanitarian issues in response to the state of emergency caused by COVID-19, resulting in porous borders and the vulnerability of certain areas.

The United Nations Security Council, in its resolution 2178 (2014), adopted on 24 September 2014 pursuant to Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, acknowledges the increasing threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters and requires Member States to prevent and suppress the recruiting, organizing, transporting or equipping of foreign terrorist fighters.

 Moreover, UNSC resolution 2396 (2017) has reinforced and complemented international obligations related to border security and information sharing, including the use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) and Advance Passenger Information (API), biometrics, and watchlists.