Former President Jerry John Rawlings has condemned illegal fishing and dumping of toxic waste on parts of the Somali coastline which has caused extensive damage including fish contamination and birth abnormalities to humans.
He called on the international community to strive to trace, apprehend and prosecute those responsible for such despicable acts with the same urgency as the arrest and transfer of leading African citizens to the ICC in The Hague.
A statement issued by the Office of Former President Rawlings in Accra on Wednesday copied to Ghana News Agency said he made the condemnation at a conference on combating maritime piracy organised by the Government of the United Arab Emirates and DP World in Dubai.
Former President Rawlings, who is also African Union High Representative for Somalia, addressed the opening session with an update on the situation in Somalia and later a panel discussion on the topic “The Humanitarian Situation in Somalia and Public-Private Sector Responses”, lashed out at the abuse of the Somali coastline and the impunity that came with it.
He said: “There is nothing more despicable than the dumping of toxic waste along the coastline of Somalia. Waging war and dealing with these pirates is completely justified but I believe we must seize the moral high ground and create goodwill amongst the people of Somalia by taking the appropriate measures to clean up their shores, tracing and arresting those responsible and prosecuting them.
“How powerful, how untouchable can they be if they easily perpetuate such crimes on humanity and walk free while leading citizens in Africa are hounded and sent to The Hague at will?”
Former President Rawlings said it was imperative that action was taken to clean up the coastline in order to win the confidence of those whose lives had been directly affected by the dumping menace.
He called for the bridging of inequalities across the world and said a lot of hate was generated when a US soldier who shot and killed Afghan citizens was sent back to his country to be tried by a special military court while others who committed similar acts were quickly
transferred to international courts for trial.
“The Afghans are increasingly seeing them as enemies because they do not see justice in such actions,” he said.
The huge success achieved in Somalia, Former President Rawlings noted, had been largely due to the support of major international partners – IGAD, the United Nations, United States, United Kingdom, the European Union and a host of other countries and institutions who had contributed both in monetary and logistical terms towards pushing a common agenda of seeking a lasting solution to the Somalia problem.
He commended the government and people of Turkey for the extraordinary show of support through monetary, logistical and investment in educational and medical infrastructure in Somalia.
“Turkey deserves mention because she has exceptional belief in a positive future for Somalia.”
Former President Rawlings said when the humanitarian issue deteriorated in 2011, the Turkish Prime Minister disregarded the insecurity in Somalia at the time and visited the country with a huge delegation including his wife, children and senior politicians to show solidarity and donate cash and relief items.
He said Turkey donated not less than $365 million in cash and kind towards alleviating the dire humanitarian crises.