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22.01.2005 Regional News

Anti-Trafficking Group Holds Workshop

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Bawku (U/E), Jan 22, GNA - A two-day leadership capacity-building and documentation workshop for 64 anti-child trafficking vigilante groups in the Bawku East Municipality has been held at Bawku. Participants drawn from eight communities shared experiences on their activities and achievements since the groups were inaugurated in 2003.

The vigilante group, which is the first of its kind in the country on a pilot basis, is aimed at keeping surveillance teams in the eight communities along the country's borders to eliminate child trafficking. Mrs Susan Sabaa, National coordinator of Ghana NGOs Coalition for the Rights of the Child (GNCRC), organizers of the workshop, said policies on the protection of the child are inadequate and this make it easier for people to treat children with impunity.

"Until the government comes out with the right laws that seek to address children's issues effectively, its signatory to the child's Rights Convention will remain a mere talk show", she said.

Mrs Sabaa appealed to the government to muster the political courage to pass laws that will prevent child trafficking. She said all over the world, most children have long been exploited and abused to the detriment of their health and education, with the relevant authorities looking on apathetically.

"Now, it is time to remedy the situation to enhance the child's rights and proper development and this calls for stiffer punishment of child abusers," she said.

Mrs Sabaa said in connection with GNCRC's vision of developing the child, the vigilante groups should not be complacent with the gains so far made, but thrive to eliminate child trafficking totally in the municipality.

Ms Ekua Ansah-Eshon, Chairperson of GNCRC, expressed concern about the government's inability to enforce laws to prevent child's exploitation and abuse.

She appealed to parliament to pass the Child Protection Act. Ms Ansah-Eshon outlined some of the activities of the vigilante groups as linking up with the police, traditional rulers and GPRTU officials, and radio discussion to reduce child trafficking. So far, the groups have intercepted 15 children between the ages of 10 and 16 who were being trafficked.

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