Emerging Fields Of Expertise In National Security Law: Careers And Opportunities

Feature Article Emerging Fields Of Expertise In National Security Law: Careers And Opportunities
JAN 6, 2020 LISTEN

Emerging threats to global peace and security has attracted attention of world leaders and international actors, in particular national governments who have responsibility to safeguard national security. Today, the field of national security has become more complex than before, with paradigm shift from its earlier narrow conception as war or national defence. Contemporary view of national security presents enormous challenge to maintaining national security in a democratic system where security activities must be conducted within framework of rule of law and protection of fundamental human rights. Legal development in Ghana is shifting focus to non-traditional areas of law specializations such as media law, communication and sports law among others, however, not much has been achieved in the area of national security law despite increasing regulation in an increasingly complex national security sector. This paper, which examines emerging fields of expertise in national security law and career opportunities in Ghana, identifies many fields both in public and private sectors where upcoming national security law practitioners can pursue rewarding careers.

The measures by government to maintain national security involves a system that basically deals with institutions established to address matters of national security as well as strategies, techniques and tools designed to counter specific threats, and the legal regime within which state actions, practices and techniques such as surveillance, interrogations, intelligence collection, secrecy and protection of classified information must be conducted. The national security realm, an interaction between institutions, laws and principles, finds the State caught up between the responsibility to ensure the security of the State and its citizens, and the democratic obligation of upholding rule of law, and “to be able to cope with the complex security requirements, there has to be a basic constitutional and legal framework in which the national security apparatus would operate in a way that should strike a fine balance between totality of national security imperatives and respect for human rights and civil liberties (Quantson, (2006, p.159). Some US military commanders have asserted that modern warfare is now ‘very legalistic and very complex’ (Winik, 2003 as cited in Dunlap, 2012). The enactment of Ghana’s national security law as foremost legislation that provides the legal basis for intelligence and national security operations, underscores this need for balance between national security and law (SecurityandIntelligenceAgenciesAct1996(GH), Act 526). National security law bridges the barrier between national security and law which from the perspective of human rights “resides at the constitutional intersection of liberty” (Baker, 2014, p.66). It is reported that “there is demand for talented and well-trained national security lawyers in the US federal government, law firms, private industry, consultancies, think tanks, advocacy groups, special interest organizations, journalism, international organizations, state and local government, and legal academy” (Donohue, 2013, p.489).

Intelligence as the pivot of national security for instance, involves many regulations regarding its use and an effective national security lawyer should have a grasp of intelligence, operations and processes as it is not only expected of the professional to identify and alert the policy maker of legal limitations but is required that “a national security practitioner must in many instances, have a deep enough level understanding of the means and methods of national security activities to be able to offer lawful alternatives” (Dunlap, 2012, p.1072).

It is observed that ten years after the enactment of the security and intelligence law which established legally, Bureau of National Investigation and Research Department as Ghana's Internal and External Intelligence Agencies respectively, many people including lawyers and law enforcement agents had no knowledge of the existence of the national security law (Quantson, 2006, p.163) and is further noted that “given the increasing public challenge to actions by the agency, BNI needs to as a matter of priority to strengthen its legal department” (Dickson, 2016, p4). There has even been a proposition for a national security court in the US to pay special attention to national security matters (McCarthy and Velshi, 2009). Even though Ghana's human rights high court deals with human rights matters, the Security and Intelligence Agencies Law establishes a Complaints Tribunal with membership as Justice/retired justice of High Court or a lawyer qualified to be appointed high court judge and two other members, one of whom must possess knowledge in intelligence operations (Security and IntelligenceAgenciesAct1996,Act 526,s22). This, together with the recently passed BNI Regulations 2015 (GH), L.I 2227) meant to ensure internal discipline of employees and provide for administrative procedures in disciplinary proceedings involving BNI officers further stresses the need for lawyers to be have appreciable understanding of the field of intelligence to be able to provide quality legal services in this field. While legal specializations in this area is low, opportunities are abound, following increasing regulation occasioned by emerging threats to national and international security and therefore such areas as cyber crime, terrorism, surveillance and counterintelligence, secrecy and classified information, piracy and maritime crimes, immigration and border controls among others are calling for specialized legal expertise. This is evident in the increasing number of legal actions against government for operations of the security and intelligence agencies, particularly on matters bordering on human rights violations

The paper which is exploratory, reviews information on public service institutions and private sector organizations where career opportunities exists for upcoming legal practitioners interested in national security law.


This section explores various government agencies and departments dealing with national security and opportunities that exist for national security law practice or upcoming national security law practitioners. It examines role of government departments and agencies in matters of national security and law.

The National Security Council (NSC) established to oversee national security is the highest decision making body regarding the internal and external security of Ghana (ConstitutionofTheRepublicofGhana1992,(GH), Article 83-84). Supported in its policy formulation and national security management is the Ministry of National Security (MNS). The MNS is a cabinet level co-ordinating ministry for the security and intelligence sector, bringing together ministries concerned with national security; defence, interior, foreign affairs and Justice for the purpose of national security policy formulation, harmonization and coordination to enhance public safety and enhanced security service delivery (MinistryofNationalSecurity [MNS] Programme Based Budgeting, 2019). The ministry employs various expertise and contractors including lawyers with specialized skills in security and public safety.

The National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) is a highly professional and technical centre for national intelligence, in support of the NSC's mandate of decision making for enhanced national security, protection and defence of the sovereignty and integrity of the Republic of Ghana. The NSCS, headed by the National Security Co-ordinator who is head of the security and intelligence community, is responsible for collation, evaluation, production and dissemination of intelligence to relevant agencies and departments of state to counter threats to national security (SecurityandIntelligence AgenciesAct,1996Act, 526, s19.). The NSCS is staffed with skilled personnel including analysts, subject matter specialists, lawyers and various expertise in various security areas; terrorism, counterintelligence, surveillance, communication, espionage, intelligence analysis, interviewing and interrogation among others. It also collaborates with foreign governments and similar bodies worldwide in intelligence sharing to tackle international and transnational organized crimes which comes with complex legalities that transcends national borders, hence requiring highly specialized national security law practitioners to deal with the legal challenges arising out of its activities. As the centre for intelligence and national security, it co-ordinates fourteen (14) elements of the security and intelligence community namely; Research Department (RD), Bureau of National Investigation (BNI), Department of Defence Intelligence of Ghana Armed Forces (DI), Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO), Criminal Investigation Department of the Police Service, Ghana Armed Forces, Ghana Police Service, Ghana Prisons Service, Ghana Immigration Service, Ghana National Fire Service, Customs Division and National Disaster Management Organization. INTELLIGENCE SERVICES
The RD and BNI are Ghana's National Security Intelligence agencies responsible for external and internal intelligence respectively, with mandate to collect, analyse, retain and disseminate intelligence on threats to national security, protect the state against threats of espionage, sabotage, terrorism, hijacking, drug trafficking, subversion and treason as well as protect the sovereignty and economic wellbeing of the state (SecurityandIntelligenceAgenciesAct1996, Act 526 s10-12). The BNI, a para-military civilian counterintelligence and internal security organization has enforcement or police powers while the RD is a purely civilian foreign intelligence organization operating under the structures of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through Ghana's missions abroad with no internal security or police function. Both organizations advice government on emerging threats to national security including threats posed by foreign intelligence services or hostile international organizations, or persons engaged in espionage, sabotage, terrorism and subversion. The DI on the hand, as part of the Ghana Armed Forces deals with military intelligence or intelligence of military significance, in furtherance of the mandate of the Armed Forces in defending the territorial integrity of the Republic of Ghana.

The DI, which draws its personnel from the regular forces (army, navy and air force) collects army intelligence, naval intelligence and air intelligence.The area of intelligence activity; civilian and military intelligence is heavily regulated and continue to see more regulation both domestically and internationally in response to emerging threats to global peace and security, including surveillance and counterintelligence laws, terrorism laws, treason, international criminal laws, human rights law, diplomacy and foreign intelligence laws etc and requires in-depth understanding of these fields by lawyers to ensure efficient and effective performance of the intelligence, national security and defence system within the democratic space

The BNI and RD does not advertise their recruitments processes to the public but recruits from unsolicited applications submitted by interested citizens and also through special procedure of spotting and recruiting specialized skills such as national security lawyers. There is also opportunity for secondment of staff of other government departments or government contractors who possess specialized expertise in areas of need. The BNI and RD still maintain high degree of secrecy. However, information on their recruitment processes can be obtained from the headquarters, regional and divisional commands in the case of the BNI and the RD headquarters in Accra. The Ministry of National Security which is the interface between the intelligence sector and the public may also be contacted. SPECIALIZED LAW ENFORCEMENT INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES

Unlike BNI and RD which have extensive intelligence collection mandate, NACOB, EOCO and FIC are specialized law enforcement intelligence agencies that focus on particular threats. While NACOB, under the ministry of interior deals with drug intelligence and drug law enforcement, EOCO and FIC under the ministry of Justice and Finance respectively, specialize in economic and financial crime investigation, and anti-money laundering and prevention of terrorist financing respectively (Narcotics Drugs Control, EnforcementandSanctionsLaw1990, (GH), PNDCL 236, Economic and Organized Crime Office Act, 2010(GH), Act 804, and Anti-Money Laundering Act2008 (GH), Act 749). Except FIC which does not exercise internal security or police function, both NACOB and EOCO have police powers to conduct investigations and gather evidence on violations of criminal laws relative to their mandates for criminal prosecution.

The together with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Police service, these Law Enforcement Intelligence Agencies (LEIA) undertake limited collection and analyses of information on their core mandate and disseminates these information to other agencies. Each of these agencies have legal directorates that support their work, hence presenting opportunities for lawyers to specialize in specific aspects of security laws such as cyber crime law, money laundering and financial crime law, drug trafficking laws among others. Information on career opportunities can be obtained from offices of these agencies or their supervising ministries. GHANA ARMED FORCES
Established for the purpose of defending the territorial integrity of the Republic of

Ghana, the GAF comprises Army, Navy and Air force (Constitution of The Republic of Ghana1992, Article 210, Armed Forces Act 1962 (Act 105). With growing threats of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, border and boundary security concerns, the military’s responsibility in addressing these threats continue to grow.

The recent maritime boundary dispute between Ghana and Ivory Coast underscores the need for special legal expertise in international maritime law. Expertise in international armed conflict, use of military force, aviation laws among others, bordering on territorial sovereignty are not only required in guiding military actions to conform to international law and respect for human rights, but also important for military activities in the global legal environment on anti-terrorism, maritime crimes, piracy and aviation. These areas open opportunities for lawyers in military trials and criminal prosecutions related to military matters, and require expert aviation lawyers, maritime lawyers, military advisors, policy analysts and military strategists. Opportunities also exists for in the Ministry of Defence. Information on recruitment in the Ghana Armed Forces are publicly available and the military advertises its vacancies. INTERNAL SECURITY AGENCIES
These agencies, under the ministry of Interior are critical to internal security and public safety. The police is established to maintain law and order, detect and prevent crime (ConstitutionofTheRepublicofGhana1992, Article 200, PoliceServiceAct1970, (GH), Act 350). It is the frontline internal security organization and enforcer of the country's criminal laws. The Prisons Service as important element of the criminal justice system is responsible for safe custody of inmates and provision of correctional services to inmates in an environment of respect for human rights and dignity. (ConstitutionofTheRepublicofGhana1992, Article 205, National Redemption Council Decree 1972 (GH), NRCD 46). The Customs Division and Immigration Service are border security agencies responsible for revenue collection and regulation of entry and movement of persons in and out of Ghana. (Customs, Excise and Preventive Service Law (Management)Law1993(GH), PNDCL 330, Ghana Revenue Authority Act2009, Act 791, ImmigrationServiceAct2016, Act 908). The Ghana National Fire Service has mandate for fire fighting and rescue operations. It focuses on fire and safety education and enforcement of fire and safety regulations in all organizations. It assists the police and other investigative agencies in arson investigations and violations of fire and safety regulations (Ghana National Fire Service Act1997, Act 537). The area of criminal justice has witnessed, and continue to see significant legislation in response to changing trends in crime and threats to internal security such as terrorism, cyber crime, kidnapping and violent extremism, cross-border crime and illegal migrants, hence opportunities for special expertise in cyber crime law, terrorism law, kidnapping, international human rights law which are required by the Investigation and prosecution departments and for advisory roles at the ministry of interior. ATTORNEY GENERAL'S DEPARTMENT AND MINISTRY OF JUSTICE

The Ministry of Justice and Attorney General's Department is the largest employer of lawyers who handle both criminal and civil cases as well as serve as policy and legal advisors to senior government officials on all matters of law involving ministries, departments and agencies of government. It guides the drafting of policies, regulations and laws. The Solicitor-General's department handles civil cases arising out of actions against the government or its agencies or government’s actions against private persons and entities including other governments and international organizations. The Directorate of Public Prosecutions handles all criminal prosecutions on behalf of government. It advices, guides and directs the police, investigative and prosecutory agencies in prosecution of criminal cases. Opportunities exists for national security lawyers in all aspects of security laws and regulations for careers as criminal prosecutors, ligation lawyers, legal advisors and policy analysts.


The growing demand for national security lawyers presents prospects in universities, academic and training institutions in teaching and research of national security law. Law faculties present teaching career opportunities in various specializations in national security law. Teaching opportunities also exists in professional institutions like the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Police Detective Training School, Defence Intelligence Training School and BNI Training School.


Growing participation of the private security sector in the maintenance of national security also requires national security law expertise to guide the operations of these actors. Private security firms are registered and regulated by the ministry of interior (PoliceServiceAct,1970, Act 350, s 38, PrivateSecurityRegulations1992(GH) L.I 1571). With emerging security firms like E-crime Bureau, Corporate Intelligence Bureau and Brompton Institute of Security Intelligence among others, now venturing into provision of intelligence services including surveillance, asset tracing, polygraph services, vetting and security clearance and cyber security solutions, prospects for the national security lawyers in these specialized areas is bright, particularly in the areas of legal advisory services and litigations.


These are critical segment of civil society whose activities are crucial to shaping public policy and improvement in security sector governance, and effectiveness in security service delivery. Notable among these organizations include Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, Center for Strategic and Defence Studies (CSDS), West African Network for Peace building (WANEP), Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), Amnesty International, Institute of Security and Safety Policy (ISSAPR), Bureau of Governance, Media, Peace and Security West Africa (GMPS-West Africa) among others. Opportunities for security research, national security law training, security policy analysis and advocacy. The CSDS focuses on cybercrime, maritime security, border security and terrorism and security sector governance, requiring legal expertise in the various areas for research, training and policy analysis.

The complex legal environment requires specialised expertise in national security law so as to address the legal issues surrounding national security. Inexhaustive emerging areas of career opportunities for national security lawyers include counterintelligence and surveillance law, terrorism law, maritime law, aviation law, cyber security law, international and human rights law. Upcoming practitioners can also take up careers as national security law academics, researchers, security policy advisors and security consultants.

BY Moses Jatuat, BSc, PgD , M.A (ongoing), CFIP (ongoing)

Center for Strategic and Defence Studies Africa || [email protected]

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