The United States government through the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Office has supported anti-human trafficking institutions in Ghana with $5 million to fight child trafficking and forced child labour.
The beneficiary institutions include; IOM and Free the Slaves, an NGO, which formed part of the Child Protection Compact (CPC) Partnership signed between US and Ghana in June, this year.
The CPC Partnership outlined the commitment of four ministries, including the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection; the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, as well as the US Government, to work collaboratively to protect Ghanaian children.
This is contained in a joint statement issued by the US Embassy and Government of Ghana in Accra when officials of the United States Government and Government of Ghana met on October 25, to discuss progress made in achieving the objectives of the CPC Partnership.
The CPC Partnership is the first-ever jointly-developed plan by the two countries to address forced child labour and child sex trafficking in Ghana.
The Partnership also aimed at ensuring child traffickers were held accountable for their crimes through arrests, prosecutions, and convictions.
The statement said the activities of the anti-human trafficking institutions and selected ministries would focus on three regions, including the Volta, Central and Greater Accra.
The CPC Partnership is to establish a more holistic approach to improving coordination of government and civil society anti-trafficking efforts; enhancing Ghana’s capacity to investigate, prosecute, and convict child traffickers.
It is also to ensure expansion of specialised services to child trafficking victims, increasing public awareness on the nature of child trafficking, the devastating impact on children, and promoting prevention of this crime.
Through U.S. government funding under the CPC Partnership, IOM provided the Ghana Police Service Anti-Human Trafficking Units with six vehicles and investigative equipment and organised 22 training programmes for 500 individuals from the Ghana Police and Immigration Services, Social Welfare Department, Labour Department, Attorney General’s Department, and the Judiciary Service, the statement said.
The trainings focused on identification and screening of human trafficking victims, direct assistance, as well as investigation, prosecution, and adjudication of child trafficking cases.
Free the Slaves, in collaboration with local NGO partners, including International Needs Ghana, Right to be Free, Challenging Heights, Don Bosco Child Protection Centre, and Partners in Community Development trained 114 traditional authorities and local government officials in identifying and appropriately responding to child trafficking.
These anti-human trafficking institutions worked with local communities and law enforcement agencies to rescue 127 children and eight adults from labour trafficking situations, provided 196 individuals with shelter and other services, reached more than 7,600 people through awareness creation activities, and convened a national symposium, which 100 stakeholders attended to develop strategies to combat trafficking.
The meeting held on October 25 in Accra brought together senior government officials of the two countries, including Madam Otiko Afisa Djaba, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection and Chair of the Human Trafficking Management Board, Mr. Ignatius Baffour Awuah, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Joseph Kpemka, the Deputy Minister of Justice, as well as a representative from the Ministry of the Interior.
The U.S Government officials present at the meeting includes; Mr. Robert Porter Jackson, the US Ambassador to Ghana, Kari Johnstone, Acting Director, U.S. State Department’s Office in charge of Monitoring and Combating Trafficking in Persons.
Kari Johnstone, Acting Director, U.S. State Department’s Office in charge of Monitoring and Combating Trafficking in Persons, said the US government was pleased to partner with Ghana to fight child trafficking and pledged to offer support for the partnership to succeed.
Madam Otiko Afisa Djaba, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, on her part, said the government was committed to investing resources to fulfill the objectives of the CPC Partnership to ensure Ghanaian children were not subjected to forced labour or sexual exploitation.
The statement said many children are vulnerable to human trafficking due to economic hardships in Ghana, and some are subjected to forced child labour in the fishing industry, domestic service, street hawking, begging and quarrying, as well as the artisanal gold mining and agriculture sector.