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Bringing An End To Modern Slavery Through Government Interventions   
 
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25-Apr-2016  
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Last year, the U.S State Department’s Annual Trafficking in Persons Report, which analyses the extent to which 188 countries combat human trafficking and slavery revealed that Ghana’s efforts in combating the menace was failing.

In spite of significant efforts by the government to bring itself into compliance with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards, Ghana was unable to demonstrate overall increasing anti-trafficking efforts compared to the previous year and as such, was demoted from Tier 2 to the Tier 2 Watch-List.

Being on the Tier 2 Watch-List means that the absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing in the country or there is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year.

According to the report, Ghana is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking, however, the trafficking of Ghanaians, particularly children, within the country is more prevalent than the transnational trafficking of foreign migrants.

Ghanaian boys and girls are subjected to forced labour within the country in fishing, domestic service, street hawking, begging, portering, artisanal gold mining, quarrying, herding and agriculture.

Throughout the country, children are at a very tender age exposed to varying degrees of dangers associated with hazardous and worst forms of child labour which deprives them of their childhood, potential and self-worth that could advance them in society.

Even though the government has over the years invested resources and implemented laws and policies aimed at combating trafficking in the country, it is obvious from various reports and researches that Ghana has not demonstrated overall increasing anti-trafficking efforts to bring an end to slavery.

The Ghana Child Labour Survey conducted in 2003 estimated that out of 6.36 million children aged 5-17 years, 1.27 million were in child labour, and in 2014, the Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS Round 6) disclosed that out of 8.70 million children, 1.9 children were engaged in child labour whereas 1.2 million were engaged in hazardous labour.

The above-mentioned figures are a clear indication of the government’s inability to reach their target to reduce the Worst Forms of Child Labour through the National Plan of Action (NPA).

The overall objective of the NPA was to reduce the worst forms of child labour to the barest minimum by 2015, while laying strong social, policy and institutional foundations for the elimination and prevention of all other forms of child labour in the longer term.

Although the Government of Ghana deserves credit for making the issue of trafficking and child labour visible on its agenda, it is worthy to note that the country failed to enforce existing laws and policies such as the Children’s Act 560, 1998; Human Trafficking Act 694, the Domestic Violence Act 732; 2007, UN Convention on the Rights of a Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of a Child that aims to serve the interest of children.

Furthermore, certain government’s inactions, like the lack of adequate training and resources for law enforcement agencies to enable them to fully act on suspected trafficking reports and prosecute such cases played a key role in hindering our progress in the fight against trafficking.

For instance, the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (ATHU) of the Ghana Police Service have been relying heavily on the support of international and local donors to fund their operations since they haven’t been receiving the necessary financial backing from government to cover the cost of their activities.

A typical example of a local NGO that has been complementing the efforts of the ATHU and Department of Social Welfare (DSW) is Challenging Heights.

Based in Winneba, Challenging Heights, working to rescue enslaved children on the Lake Volta has over the years complemented the efforts of the AHTU and the DSW to liberate, rehabilitate and reintegrate victims of trafficking into their home communities.

In 2015 alone, Challenging Heights in collaboration with the ATHU, DSW and other institutions removed 41 children from slavery on the Lake Volta, cared for 118 children at its rehabilitation shelter including 70 new admissions and reintegrated 74 children with their families, whiles providing continuous monitoring to 82 children.

RECOMMENDATIONS

To reduce the incidence of trafficking, child labour and hazardous labour, the government must first of all, make deliberate attempt to tackle poverty which is at the core of majority of the cases related to child trafficking.

Government must strengthen policies and expand social interventions such as the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), the Capitation Grant, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) and the Ghana School Feeding Programme which are all good tools to bring an end to child slavery when implemented effectively.

All Laws and Policies must be properly enforced especially in rural and trafficking prone areas to discourage the act and protect vulnerable children and those likely to fall into the trap of child labour.

Also, there should be coordinated efforts to develop infrastructure in rural areas and address basic needs and livelihoods to alleviate rural poverty.

Sufficient resources must be allocated to anti-trafficking and social protection agencies such as the AHTU, DSW, Ghana Immigration Service, Motor Traffic Transport Unit (MTTU), the Judicial Service and the Human Trafficking Management Board to enable them to proactively identify victims, continue to investigate and prosecute trafficking cases.

Government operated shelters should be fully equipped, maintained and secured whiles providing training for staff in victim care to ensure the safety and proper rehabilitation of the survivors.

It is important for The President, John Dramani Mahama and his government as well as subsequent governments to show deep commitment in the fight to bring an end to modern slavery to safeguard the future growth and development of our nation.

Funds from Partnerships such as the Child Protection Compact (CPC) between Ghana and the U.S which will facilitate investment of up to $5million in U.S foreign assistance to aid the government to reduce child trafficking and improve child protection should be used judiciously in improving efforts to identify and remove children from situations of forced child labour and sex trafficking; provide comprehensive care and case management services; initiate successful investigations, prosecutions and convictions of child traffickers; increase public awareness of the nature of child trafficking and its devastating impact on children and the importance of prevention.

The future of Ghana lies in the mind and hands of the Ghanaian child; let’s not lose focus but fight to bring an end to modern slavery.

 
 
 
Source: James Kofi Annan
 
 

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