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13.03.2007 General News

Human Trafficking Act is too broad - Lawyer

By : GNA

A lawyer has described the Human Trafficking Act, 2005, as "too broad" and as such raises a number of concerns that need to be addressed to ensure its effective enforcement.

He said, for instance, the meaning of trafficking in the Act has been so defined as to make it ambiguous to determine what is meant by "force", "deception", "harbouring" or "exploitation of vulnerability."

Mr. Rowland Atta-Kesson, a legal practitioner and Programme Officer of Legal Resources Centre (LRC), a human rights non-governmental organisation, said this at a workshop organised for security agencies in Tamale on Monday.

The workshop was a collaboration between the LRC and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to sensitise the security agencies on the Human Trafficking Act and also educate them on the roles they are expected to play in the enforcement of the Act.

Mr. Atta-Kesson said the Act in its present form could be intrusive into the privacy of people and could even lead to the arrest of parents travelling with their own children.

He said: "For instance, an inquisitive neighbour could report an uncle or aunt to the police for keeping his or her own nephew or niece".

Mr. Atta-Kesson urged the security personnel to be careful to follow the correct procedure when arresting people suspected of trafficking. They must also show the willingness to protect witnesses who testify against traffickers.

He said there was also the need for vigilance among the citizenry against trafficking. "It is critical to keep people from arresting whomever they choose".

Miss. Cynthia Gakpleasi, the Project Coordinator of the LRC-ILO Human Trafficking Project, said the LRC was translating the technical aspects of the Act and their implications for the various stakeholders to help strengthen the institutions and increase sensitisation on the new legal framework.

She said it was essential to generate awareness on the mechanisms of trafficking, especially those of recruiters, transporters, intermediaries and other players in the trafficking ring.

She said as part of efforts to halt human rights abuses, including human trafficking, the LRC with the support of the ILO was organising similar workshops nationwide for policy makers, the general public and the Legal and Justice Community.

Source: GNA