The relevance of revisiting the doctrine and principle of ‘Hot Pursuit’ is self-evident. Recently, the Minister of Defence presented himself to the National Assembly members in order to shed light on matters revolving around the efficacy of the ECOMIG troops in Foni against the backdrop of the loss of lives and the existential insecure environment that imperils the livelihoods of the people of Foni.
Hot pursuit is grounded on Customary International Law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The right of a coastal state derived from UNCLOS to exercise sovereignty beyond its shorelines and full control over its maritime domain accentuates the use of hot pursuit as one of the maritime enforcement tools at its disposal.
So what is the essence of revisiting Hot Pursuit? Basically because the principle of Hot Pursuit, which engenders the harmonizing of the two conflicting interests of jurisdiction at sea where a coastal state has the authority to impose and enforce regulations regarding conduct of vessels in its adjacent maritime domain, and certain rights that foreign vessels enjoy within that adjacent maritime domains is somehow being inadvertently applied to hot pursuit on land.
Hot pursuit on land is a grey concept which has no global legal basis other than it being perceived as the exercise of the right to self-defence and thus accords legitimacy to a state’s troops’ incursions into another state. But truth be told, there is no global legal authority similar to UNCLOS that would allow one nation to conduct incursions into another nation’s territory to pursue an opposing element on land. This act contravenes, even to a layman like my humble self, the inviolable sovereignty and territorial integrity of a nation.
We conclude this précis by submitting that the responsibility of the crisis in Foni and other Gambian villages bordering the Casamance region of Senegal squarely falls into the grey concept of hot pursuit on land.
Captain Joseph P Jassey, (rtd)
West Atlantic Security Risk Assessment and Management Consultancy