‘Ghanaian peacekeepers who misbehave will be punished’

BY: Issah Mohammed
Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey (right), Mr Dominic Nitiwul (left), Minister of Defence, and Ms Christine Evans-Klock looking at photographs on Ghana’s peacekeeping operations which were mounted as part of the ceremony. Pictures: EBOW HANSON
Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey (right), Mr Dominic Nitiwul (left), Minister of Defence, and Ms Christine Evans-Klock looking at photographs on Ghana’s peacekeeping operations which were mounted as part of the ceremony. Pictures: EBOW HANSON

The government will penalise Ghanaian peacekeepers who misconduct themselves while on peacekeeping missions.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, who gave the warning, said acts such as sexual exploitation and other forms of abuse would not be tolerated.

She gave the warning at a flag-raising/wreath-laying ceremony in Accra yesterday to mark the International Day of United Nations (UN) Peacekeepers.

The minister said such acts were “contrary to the exemplary standards that peacekeepers on UN missions have held themselves to over the years”.

She reminded peacekeepers that the President of Ghana, who is a member of the UN Circle of Leadership against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in UN peacekeeping Operations, was dedicated to supporting efforts aimed at the restoration of the dignity of victims by holding perpetrators to account.

Ms Botchwey also pointed out that the continued representation of Ghanaian personnel at peacekeeping missions since the 1960s served to demonstrate the country’s commitment to the UN Charter that established the UN as an international organisation.

Ceremony

The flag-raising ceremony was to pay tribute to the contribution of civilians and security personnel who have worked in peacekeeping operations and also honour some 3,700 people who have lost their lives since its inception in 1948.

This year’s celebration coincided with the 70th anniversary of UN Peacekeeping, which was observed on the theme: “UN Peacekeepers: 70 Years of service and sacrifice”.
A parade mounted by personnel of the Ghana Navy and the Ghana Police Service spiced up the ceremony.

In attendance were the top hierarchy of the security services.

The Dag Hammarskojold Medal, a posthumous medal for peacekeepers who lose their lives on duty, was presented to relatives of the late Staff Sergeant Atanyik Boniface and Lance Corporal Sakyi Adjei Emmanuel, who died in 2016.

UN policewomen

About 72 UN peacekeeping operations have been undertaken since its inception in 1948, 57 of which have been successfully completed.

According to the UN, there were currently 14 peacekeeping missions going on worldwide.

The UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Christine Evans-Klock, indicated that the UN was working at attracting more women to peacekeeping missions, particularly so as women had been the targets of violence and abuse in conflict situations.

That would also fulfil the goal of having a 20 per cent women component of UN police by 2020, she said.

“The role of uniformed women in peacekeeping operations is relatively important. The UN is working on attracting more women to join the 1,098 women police forces from 69 countries currently serving in peacekeeping missions,” she stressed.

Mortalities

About 62 out of the 134 deaths involving peacekeepers in 2017 resulted from violent actions.

Ms Evans-Klock described the deaths as the highest mortality rate resulting from violent action recorded by the UN in two decades.

The 2018 edition of the Dag Hammarskojold Posthumous Awards to be held on June 1, in New York will see a Ghanaian UN peacekeeper, Mr Victor Amerigo, who died on January 6, 2017, being honoured, among 129 fallen heroes.