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NewsWe must all come together to fight crime - EOCO

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We must all come together to fight crime – EOCO

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In order to combat serious and organized crimes, all stakeholders must work together, according to Leo Anthony Siamah, Deputy Head of Legal and Prosecution at the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO).

Siamah emphasized that resolving these issues calls for more than just investigations and prosecutions and emphasized the significance of raising public awareness of the difficulties and the need for coordinated action while participating in a Joy FM discussion on defending Ghana’s stability against serious and organized crime threats in the upcoming 2024 elections and beyond.

“These are not foreign concepts,” Siamah stated, debunking the misconception that organised crime is limited to certain regions.

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He highlighted that Ghana’s reputation as a transit point for drug trafficking suggests the presence of organized criminal groups within the country.

Identifying weaknesses in Ghana’s legal framework, particularly regarding regulations on political campaign financing, Siamah stressed the necessity for stricter laws and enforcement to prevent illegal money from influencing political processes.

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He pointed out gaps in existing laws that allow for the evasion of regulations, emphasizing the importance of robust enforcement to effectively address these issues.

Siamah referenced recent cases where the absence of comprehensive legal mechanisms hindered prosecution efforts, further emphasizing the necessity for legislation that tackles unexplained wealth and holds individuals responsible for illicit financial activities.

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Referring to a 2018 report by the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), which highlighted a significant rise in party finance expenditures for parliamentarians between 2012 and 2016, Siamah stressed the importance of enhanced accountability in political financing. He urged stakeholders to demand transparency and accountability to prevent the misuse of funds in political endeavors.

Mrs. Mary Awelana Addah, the Executive Director of Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), stressed the immediate necessity for combatting corruption to safeguard Ghana’s stability against serious and organized crime threats in the upcoming 2024 elections and beyond.

She underscored the widespread prevalence of corruption in Ghanaian society, characterizing it as a “multi-faceted monster” that continuously adapts and evolves.

Mrs. Addah voiced apprehension regarding the growing commercialization of elections and the involvement of criminal activities in financing political campaigns.

“We cannot keep quiet. We need to talk about the issue,” Addah asserted, pointing out that corruption undermines the democratic process and erodes public trust in governance institutions.

She observed that politicians are growing more alarmed by the impact of illicit funds on elections.

Bringing focus to the concept of state capture, Mrs. Addah cautioned that criminal elements were exerting unwarranted influence on political decision-making. She referenced instances of illicit activities, such as illegal mining (galamsey), being employed to fund political figures and manipulate government policies.

She stressed the importance of increased transparency and accountability in political financing to curb the infiltration of criminal funds into the electoral process. Additionally, she urged policymakers to tackle the underlying causes of corruption and bolster anti-corruption efforts to protect Ghana’s stability and integrity.

“We cannot gain anything at all if we allow corrupt practices to undermine our democracy,” she said, and called for collective action to combat corruption and uphold the principles of good governance ahead of the 2024 elections.

Dr. Kojo Pumpuni Asante, the Director of Advocacy and Policy Engagement at the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), cautioned about the widespread threat posed by serious and organized crime (SOC) in Ghana, urging increased vigilance in anticipation of the 2024 elections.

Dr. Asante outlined various activities falling under serious and organized crime, spanning from illegal fishing and small-scale mining to fraudulent schemes commonly referred to as “419” or “fraud boys.” He underscored the concerning prevalence of illicit activities in the country, including drug trafficking, with Ghana serving as a significant transit point for drug shipments from South America to Europe.

Expressing unease over the influx of unexplained wealth and sudden accumulation of assets by individuals, particularly within the political sphere, Dr. Asante cautioned that such actions could undermine governance, perpetuate policy inconsistencies, and compromise decision-making processes.

“The alarm that we are trying to sound is that this type of activity has a debilitating effect on governance,” Dr. Asante stated, adding, “Policy coherence is compromised when decision-makers are beholden to criminal elements or are forced to serve as protectors of illegal activities.”

In addition to highlighting the risks of resisting criminal influence, Dr. Asante emphasized the need for people to remain vigilant in the fight against serious and organized crime.

She also warned of the possibility of terrorist financing being infiltrated through illegal activities like drug trafficking and illegal gold mining.

“We need to pay very close attention to this, otherwise, we will wake up one day and it will be much harder to fight this,” Dr. Asante cautioned.

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