The Government of Ghana says that it will, in accordance with the ruling by the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea in Hamburg, unconditionally release the Argentine frigate ARA Libertad.
The ship has been held in the port of Tema since October when a Ghanaian court ruled in favour of a financial fund, NML Capital, which claimed it was owed money by Argentina.
A release signed by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Chris Kpodo, Saturday, said, “the Government of Ghana will carefully consider the Tribunal’s Order with a view to ensuring that it is given effect, having regard to the requirements of the Constitution and the country’s international obligations.”
Read the statement below
The Government of Ghana has noted the unanimous decision by the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea in Hamburg today, 15 December, 2012 to the effect that Ghana shall forthwith and unconditionally release the Argentine frigate ARA Libertad and shall ensure that the ARA Libertad Commander and crew are able to leave the Port of Tema and the maritime areas of jurisdiction of Ghana and the frigate resupplied to that end.
The Government of Ghana has taken careful note of the Tribunal’s Order.
It is pertinent to recall that the arrest of the Argentine vessel arises from a dispute between Argentina and a private foreign company. The Government of Ghana is not a party to that dispute.
The Ghana High Court decision to detain the ARA Libertad placed the Government of Ghana in a very delicate situation on the account of the strong and positive relations we enjoy with Argentina. The Government of Ghana has always maintained that it does not consider itself to be in dispute with Argentina.
Ghana cherishes its democratic credentials with a democratically elected government firmly committed to the rule of law and utmost respect for the separation of powers. It is for this reason that the Government of Ghana was bound to respect the decision of the High Court in Accra to detain the ARA Libertad. Under the terms of Ghana’s Constitution the executive branch of Government must have regard to the independence of the Ghanaian judiciary. Ghana also respects international obligations on the rule of law including the requirements to guarantee the independence of the judiciary.
However, inasmuch as we are firmly committed to the rule of law and our own Constitution, we are also firmly committed to our international obligations. The Government of Ghana will carefully consider the Tribunal’s Order with a view to ensuring that it is given effect, having regard to the requirements of the Constitution and the country’s international obligations.
It is regrettable that this matter has come to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (“ITLOS”).
The Government of Ghana reiterates that all possible measures have been taken to preserve the health and safety of the 44 sailors on board the vessel. The Ports and Harbours Authority is providing the Argentine sailors access to all necessary facilities at the Port of Tema. The sailors themselves are not in detention and are free to go from the vessel as they please.