The Minister of Defence, Mr Dominic Nitiwul, has advised Ghanaian soldiers who take part in United Nations (UN) missions to desist from having sexual relations with the people they have been engaged to protect.
He said such incidence tended to tarnish the image of soldiers and the country they represented, explaining that the UN frowned on sexual exploitation and abuse.
“You cannot have sexual relationship with the people who you are going to help maintain peace, neither can you have sexual relationship between opposite sex,” he stated.
Mr Nitiwul gave the advice when he addressed officers and men of the Third Battalion of Infantry at the Liberation Barracks in Sunyani last Thursday.
During his one-day visit to the Brong Ahafo Region, he paid courtesy calls on the Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Mr Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, and the Omanhene of the Sunyani Traditional Area, Nana Bosoma Asor Nkrawiri.
The minister was accompanied by the Chief of Defence Staff, Lt Gen Obed Boamah Akwa, and other top officers of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF).
Addressing the soldiers, Mr Nitiwul asked them never to attempt to indulge in such misbehavior because such actions could result in the withdrawal of the entire battalion should it come to light.
Mr Nitiwul said if they could not stay chaste during UN missions, they had the liberty to come back home after some time and meet their partners before returning for duty.
“So, you have to behave like Catholic Priests when you get there… because once you are arrested it will have a repercussion on you and other members of your battalion,” he said and explained that it was because of such incidence that they were given $700 as leave allowance.
“In fact, you cannot just lose your rank but you can be sacked from the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) if you indulge in such misbehaviour,” he warned.
Touching on the number of years that soldiers were engaged, Mr Nitiwul explained that currently soldiers were not allowed to serve beyond 25 years no matter their age and strength.
He explained that a Legislative Instrument (L.I) had currently been submitted to Parliament, seeking to increase the duration of engagement from 25 years to 30 years as a result of Cabinet decision that soldiers should be recruited at a younger age and allowed to be in service for 30 years.
“What Cabinet has decided is that the additional five years must not compromise whatever benefit you enjoy.”
Mr Nitiwul reminded soldiers that they were held in high esteem by the public because of their discipline and, therefore, warned them against extortions.
He also expressed concern about scams and extortion of money that had come to be associated with recruitments into the security services.
He advised them to collaborate with members of the other security agencies to stop the smuggling of cocoa to neighbouring La Cote d’Ivoire.