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13.06.2005 General News

Ghana's Human Trafficking Ranking Drops

By Public Agenda

Ghana has moved from Tier One of US State Department's Human trafficking ranking to Tier two this year.

To be demoted to two tier means Ghana is neither bad or worse off well in terms of protecting children.

According to the Fifth Annual Trafficking in Persons report (TIP) issued on June 3, 2005 in Washington, Ghana has become an important source, transit and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced domestic and commercial labour.

Speaking via Video Conference in Washington DC, the Africa Desk Officer in charge of Monitoring and preparing the annual report Rachel Yousey said the Government of Ghana does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.

"Ghanaian Children are trafficked internally for forced labour in fishing communities and Cocoa plantations," said the report. Ghanaian children are also trafficked to Ivory Coast, Togo, Nigeria and the Gambia for exploitation as labourers or domestic servants.

Recruiters according to the report target poor children who are removed from the home community with their parents consent.

This is because the country has no legislation on human trafficking.

The report further said Ghanaian women and girls are trafficked to Western Europe especially to Germany, Italy and the Netherlands for sexual exploitation.

The report also said some young Ghanaian women are trafficked for involuntary domestic servitude in the Middle East. "Nigerian females moved to Western Europe for sexual exploitation transit in Ghana as do Burkinabe victims on their way to La Cote d'Ivoire.

Victims also include children brought to Ghana from La Cote d'Ivoire, Togo, Benin and Nigeria for forced Labour.

Reacting, the MP for North Dayi, Akua Sena Dansua said, there is no special trafficking ring that recruits women for sexual exploitation in Europe. "These Women travel on their own volition and enter into prostitution when they are unable to face the realities of life in Europe," she said.

She however said Ghana is making efforts aimed at curbing the problem.

"Ghana continues educating the public and providing assistance to trafficked children and their families," Yousey said adding, "but law enforcement efforts were disjointed and hampered by lack of comprehensive national trafficking law."

On prosecution Yousey said the government did not make significant progress in identifying and prosecuting trafficking cases, though it provided modest resources for child victims and reunited child victims with their families during the reporting period.

She further said anti-trafficking legislation proposed since 2002 did not reach Parliament.

"Laws prohibiting slavery, prostitution, use of underage labour and manufacture of fraudulent documents exists, but officials did not keep data on internal cases relating to trafficking and could not determine how many of the approximately 250 reported cases of abduction, child stealing and child abuse involved trafficking.

The US report also made mention of the Ghana Government's refusal to extradite a Ghanaian Member of Parliament for trial in a US court for trafficking a woman to the US for forced domestic servitude.

On protection the report further said the government further worked with the IOM to offer start up assistance for resettlement of repatriated children in their home communities, while few officials were trained in recognizing trafficking and providing assistance to victims.

Yousey also says although resources were scarce, the government of Ghana remains a leader in Africa for its continued efforts to educate the public.

Agencies like the Women and Juvenile Unit of he Ghana police service, the Ghana Child labour Unit, the Department of Social Welfare held community meetings and distributed handbills in local languages to the citizenry.

What the government has to do to reclaim its Tier One position according to Yousey is to seek the passage and implementation of trafficking legislation.

She however said there are no ramifications for the Tier Two position.

Tier one countries are countries whose government complies fully with the minimum standards, while Tier two category consist of countries whose governments do not comply fully with the Acts Minimum standards.

Tier three position is the worst of all and it consists of countries whose governments do not fully comply and are not making efforts to do so. This category attracts sanctions such as denial of aid among others.