Members of child-related non-governmental organisations in Winneba are said to be receiving death threats from some people for working on child trafficking cases in the area.
The Executive Director of Challenging Heights, Mr James Kofi Annan, said the threats began after his organisation, with support from the West Africa Regional Co-ordinator of Free the Slaves, Mr Emmanuel Otoo, and other organisations co-operated with the police to arrest child traffickers in the Winneba area following community sensitisation programmes organised on child trafficking.
Their efforts led to the arrest, trial and conviction of a woman who trafficked two children from the Central Region to Yeji for fishing on the Volta Lake.
The woman, Comfort Sam, alias Simpa Aba, was sentenced to three years in prison by the Agona Swedru Circuit Court presided over by Justice N.K.E. Osam, on January 8, 2010, after she had been found guilty on three counts of conspiracy, human trafficking and the use of trafficked persons.
Comfort's husband, Kofi Sammy, who is alleged to be part of a network engaged in child trafficking, is also facing trial and is expected to appear before the court today, January 21. He is currently being held in police custody.
Also accused is the mother of the two boys, Efua Grace, who is currently on police bail.
According to the police, the victims, who are brothers, were both sold for GH˘ 115 by their mother three years ago when they were six and eight.
Mr Annan described the threats on their lives as serious and indicated that the matter had been reported to the relevant security agencies for further action.
He said human trafficking was a gross abuse of fundamental human rights and was also a criminal offence under the Children's Act 1998, Act 560, adding that Ghana prohibited all forms of trafficking through its 2005 Human Trafficking Act, which prescribes a minimum penalty of five years’ imprisonment for all forms of trafficking.
Throwing more light on the case, Mr Annan said with information from community members, the organisation initiated efforts to search and rescue the children in August 2009.
He said the rescue team met with the traffickers three times at Makango on the Yeji side of the Volta Lake and warned them and other fishermen also holding children in slavery to return them to their parents and never to use children any longer because it was illegal.
He said efforts by the rescue team to have the children released proved futile and the case was subsequently reported to the Winneba Police, who assisted Challenging Heights in contacting the Yeji police for further assistance.
Mr Annan said child trafficking persisted in Ghana, despite the Human Trafficking Act passed by Parliament five years ago, and recalled that in July last year a court in Accra sentenced three Chinese to 41 years' imprisonment for human trafficking.
He said his organisation would not relent in its efforts to support the security agencies to curb the menace of child trafficking and asked members of communities to assist in dealing with the problem. He said the police had assured it of full protection and warned the public that threats against individuals were very serious offences punishable by law, adding that the relevant units within the police had expressed their commitment to the fullest use of the law to protect human rights activities.
Source: Daily Graphic
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