Don't abuse rights of civilians - Chief of Army Staff cautions military personnel

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Wed, 1 Aug 2018 Source: www.ghanaweb.com

The Chief of Army Staff of the Ghana Armed Forces, Major General William Ayamdo has warned military personnel against abusing the rights of people they are to protect.

Major General William Ayamdo cautioned them not to take advantage of people they go to protect especially during peacekeeping missions, in conflict-prone areas or areas where citizens are undergoing situations that keep them down.

Addressing over 800 military personnel from across the world at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Center in Accra, Major General William Ayamdo stressed the need to be guided by the principles of rule of law in whatever they do.

The event was to mark the end of a 15-day United Accord Exercise that brought together military personnel from over 12 countries in Africa, Europe and US.

"We need to be at our best, that is the Ghana Army, and by extension you all, we need to be at our best when others are low down there. And I couldn't find a better place to pass this message to you. As you have gone through this time mainly peace support operations and peacekeeping operations, we are usually conducting these operations in areas where there is conflict where people are down and it is very important we stay alert and we don't take advantage of the people that we are supposed to be helping" the Chief of Army Staff emphasised.

To further buttress his point and serve as an example to the personnel gathered, Major General William Ayamdo recounted a situation that occurred in his first few days in office.

He told the story of how a Ghanaian soldier was brutally murdered by some civilians and how he was enraged by their actions and wanted to take immediate drastic action but calmed himself and thought through the issue allowing the rule of law to take its course.

"I want you to keep this in mind. Not too long ago, in fact as soon as I took over as Chief of Army Staff, in one of the local operations internally, one of my officers was beaten to death. At that time the way I felt was to assemble all the village personnel who were involved in that ghastly act and just mow them down but the good side of me was just saying that all these people could not have been involved in killing this one officer and what will it say of Ghana Army, the Ghana Armed Forces, that we have killed innocent civilians, school children, women, elderly because one officer has died in the line of duty, but you see the dilemma that I was in? I'm sure some of us when we go into operations these things come up but we should do understand that the people are at their lowest ebb and we must not descend to that level. We must make sure that we operate in rule of law and make sure we communicate what we are doing to help those people" he narrated.

The two-weeks United Accord Exercise began from July 16th and ended on July 31st 2018 bringing together military personnel from the ECOWAS, some partner nations and the U.S. Army.

The training saw participants taken through a large-scale multinational military exercise including a Command Post Exercise (CPX), Field Training Exercise (FTX) Medical Readiness Training Exercise (MEDRETE) and Jungle Warfare School (JWS).

Co-Director of the exercise in Ghana from the US Army, Brigadier General Eugene LeBoeuf highlighted the essence of such partnerships and the need to be gain experience through such exercises to ensure that the Army is fully prepared for any eventuality.

He disclosed that there were about 400 military personnel from the US Army who underwent training in jungle warfare, crisis management among others.

Brigadier General LeBouef noted that this partnership to train the about 400 US Army Staff is an example of the Defense Cooperation Agreement between Ghana and the US.

"With respect to the Defense Cooperation Agreement, I'm very pleased with this opportunity to further elevate our engagement with Ghana on a level similar to what we see in different countries throughout the world as well so this is an example of us working together to further opportunities to respond to a crisis," he remarked.

Source: www.ghanaweb.com