The Human Trafficking Secretariat of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, has received a donation of household items valued at GHÈ¼ 180,000.00, to help furnish an adult shelter to accommodate female victims of human trafficking.
The items which included mattresses, blankets, bedsheets, pillows, chairs, towels, curtains, detergents, tables, wardrobes, water containers, a fridge and deep freezer, washing machine and a lawn mower, was received by Madam Victoria Natsu, the Director of the Human Trafficking Secretariat of the Ministry.
Ms Cynthia Morrison, the Gender Minister, who presented the items to the Secretariat in Accra, said having a national adult shelter for victims of abuse and trafficking was a great milestone in the history of the country.
Victim protection after rescue, she said, was very critical to enable them to be stabilized and attain effective rehabilitation, while enhancing the prosecution processes for more victims.
She seized the opportunity to thank, especially President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, for all his support and the resources provided to the Ministry to undertake the renovation and furnishing of the government section of the children and adult shelters respectively.
Ms Morrison explained that Ghana had been marked as a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children, who were trafficked and subjected to forced labour and sexual exploration.
She said the Government had been working hard to improve upon its rating on the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report for 2018, through a number of efforts, to meet the recommendations made in the 2017 report.
She mentioned some of the activities embarked on as the development, printing and dissemination of Human Trafficking National Plan of Action; Training and capacity building for law enforcement officials, as well as the renovation and furnishing of the children shelter which, would also be operational soon, together with the adult shelter.
Ms Morrison further indicated that the establishment of the Human Trafficking Fund with a seed deposit of GHÈ¼ 500,000 by the Government, was also a major step towards the anti-human trafficking activities.
She said aside these activities, institutional mechanisms to combat human trafficking were also strengthened and equipped, leading to various rescue of victims, and the prosecution of offenders.
The Gender Minister said in 2017, the Ministry in collaboration with the Anti-Human trafficking Unit of the Criminal Investigations Department, under the Ghana Police Service, rescued 229 victims, while the Anti-Human smuggling and Trafficking in Persons Unit under the Ghana Immigration Service also rescued 216 adult victims.
However, in 2018 both institutions rescued a total of 341 victims, out of which 95 were adults and the rest being children, and said there had been a significant improvement in convictions in Human Trafficking and child labour offenses between 2017 and 2018.
Ms Morrison said between these periods, both in Human Trafficking and child labour offenses, the cases increased from three to six; and two to 13 respectively, however the key challenge had been getting the adult victims to testify during prosecutions since there were no safe places to keep them, and this hindered more convictions considering the number of rescues and suspects arrested.
She therefore encouraged the public to report all forms of abuses to the security agencies to help reduce the crime in the country.
She also thanked the US Embassy for further strengthening Ghana's drive in the fight against human trafficking through the continuous implementation of the Child Labour Protection Compact Agreement being rolled out by the International Organisation for Migration and Free The Slaves, and called for more partnerships and media advocacy to curb the menace.