Ghana government intensifies efforts to address human trafficking
The government has intensified efforts to tackle the menace of human trafficking through enhanced awareness raising measures to deepen understanding of the complex issues of trafficking and irregular migration.
It is hoped that such measures including capacity building activities for stakeholders and the public, would improve the detection, investigation and the prosecution of suspected traffickers and smugglers as well as ensure a comprehensive victim protection systems.
Mrs Victoria Natsu, the Acting Executive Secretary, Human Trafficking Secretariat, who said this at the launch of this year’s United Nations Day Against Human Trafficking in Accra, said the government has also taken a number of initiatives to reduce poverty, which is one of the root causes of human trafficking.
“The LEAP programme is one of such interventions which seeks to reduce extreme poverty in poor households through cash transfer,” she said.
The event was organised under the theme, “Let us unite to end human trafficking: for it is real”.
She said the 2016 Trafficking in Person Report which ranked Ghana in Tier 2 Watch List country sends a signal that Ghana should improve in all areas of prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership to combat trafficking in a decisive manner.
“Government is therefore working assiduously in terms of funding support for key institutions, data collection trafficking, capacity building for law enforcement officials, upgrading our existing shelters and map out new ones,” she added.
The 2016 Trafficking in Person Report ranked Ghana in Tier 2 Watch List country for the second year in a row.
Mrs Natsu announced that the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection has embarked on various activities in combating human trafficking in the country.
She said apart from those interventions, the Ministry had also come up with a number of policies, including, the gender policy, the child and family welfare policy, the social protection policy and the aged bill to protect women, children and the vulnerable.
She, therefore, pledged the Ministry’s support to intensify awareness raising and prevention activities to achieve the goal of zero tolerance of human trafficking in Ghana.
Robert P. Jackson, United states Ambassador, said ranking Ghana on Tier 2 Watch List for the second year in a row, meant that Ghana did not meet the minimum required standards for preventing trafficking in persons and has failed to provide evidence of increasing efforts to do so.
He said under U.S. Law, any country designated as Tier 2 Watch List two years in a row must be automatically downgraded to Tier 3 the following year, unless the government shows more sufficient progress to warrant a Tier 2 or Tier 1 ranking.
“… A Tier 3 ranking comes with restrictions on our bilateral assistance programmes….as U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, I certainly do not want to see our assistance to millions Ghanaians disrupted. I do not want to see Ghana lose the second Millennium Challenge Compact, just as we are poised to help overcome the electricity shortage that is crippling economic growth.
“Cutting assistance is not a treat. But it will be a fact if the Government of Ghana does not act to tackle trafficking in a far more deliberate manner,” he added.
Ms Emelia Allan, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF, said human trafficking was one of the heinous crimes against humanity, as it retards a nation’s development and promotes criminal conduct, corruption, and undermines human resource development.
“Trafficking deprives children of their childhood. It exposes them to violence, abuse and exploitation including sexual abuse and exploitation, and violates their rights to be protected, grow up in a family environment, gain access to education and reach their full potential,” she said.
She said it was in line with that UNICEF has been working with government in strengthening the child protection system in Ghana.
“Apart from the legislative frameworks such as the LI on trafficking that has been supported, efforts are also being made to strengthen institutions that provide services to ensure their effectiveness,” she said and pledged their continuous support for both government and civil society organisations including the media to ensure the menace is eliminated.