Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, Robert P. Jackson, has lauded measures instituted by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government resulting in the reduction in child trafficking within the past few months.
According to him, the embassy has seen that “Ghana’s trafficking problem has been reduced over the last 18 months since this government came into office.”
Mr Jackson, who was a guest on Class FM World Affairs programme on Friday, 13 July, 2018 told the show host, Dr Etse Sikanku, that part of the reasons was because “not only are children being rescued but people are being prosecuted for trafficking and that sends a message.”
The U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons placed the country in “Tier 2 Watchlist” in 2017.
It was reported that Ghana risked losing the $498 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact from the government of the United States of America if Ghana failed to adequately fight all forms of modern slavery, trafficking in persons, child labour and sex trafficking.
Any country ranked on the Tier 2 Watch List for two consecutive years must be downgraded to Tier 3 in the third year unless it shows sufficient progress to warrant a Tier 2 or Tier 1 ranking. A Tier 3 ranking indicates a government does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons and is not making significant efforts to do so.
Downgrading to Tier 3 will mean a country will become subject to restrictions on U.S. assistance, including development aid and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact.
The United States currently provides more than $140 million per year in development aid to Ghana. Other U.S. programmes, including assistance in the areas of law enforcement; capacity building for state prosecutors; security and military assistance; and increasing the capacity of the Electoral Commission, would all be subject to restrictions.
Ghana has been a country of origin, transit, and destination for women and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced labour and forced prostitution.
The movement of internally trafficked children is either from rural to urban areas, or from one rural area to another, as from farming to fishing communities.
Ghanaian boys and girls are subjected to conditions of forced labour within the country in fishing, domestic servitude, street hawking, begging, pottering, and agriculture.
Ghanaian girls, and to a lesser extent boys, are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation within Ghana. Internal labour traffickers are commonly freelance operators, and may be known to members of the source community.
Uninformed parents may not understand that by cooperating with trafficking offenders, they may expose their children to bonded placement, coercion, or outright sale.
Media reports during the year cited 50 Ghanaian women recruited for work in Russia and subsequently forced into prostitution.
Women and girls from China, Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, and Burkina Faso are subjected to forced prostitution after arriving in Ghana. Citizens from other West African countries are subjected to forced labour in Ghana in agriculture or involuntary domestic servitude. Trafficking victims endure extremes of harsh treatment, including long hours, debt bondage, lack of pay, physical risks, and sexual abuse.
Ghana increased its law enforcement efforts by prosecuting and convicting an increased number of traffickers, including the first convictions relating to forced child labour in the Lake Volta fishing industry.
The Ghanaian Police partnered with Interpol to host regional training for law enforcement officials from Anglophone Africa, and the government took steps to establish four regional anti-trafficking units to manage cases more effectively at the regional level.
In August 2009, the president appointed new members to the Human Trafficking Management Board, which had been disbanded when the previous government left office in January 2009.
However, the government did not demonstrate increased efforts to ensure that victims receive adequate protection, such as funding a shelter for trafficked victims, or increasing assistance to NGOs or international organisations to provide trafficking victim care, the U.S. Department of State stated in its Trafficking in Persons Report 2010.
Story: Kofi OWUSU TAWIAH
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