Accra, Nov 1, GNA - Ghana has reaffirmed its commitment to end human trafficking with the support of its partners and stakeholders.
The affirmation was highlighted when senior Government officials and representatives of the United States Government met, on Wednesday, in Accra to discuss progress in achieving the objectives of the US-Ghana Child Protection Compact (CPC) Partnership.
The CPC is the first-ever jointly-developed plan to address forced child labour and child trafficking for sex in Ghana.
Human trafficking is the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others.
Members of Ghana's delegation included Mr Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, Minister of Employment and Labour Relations; Madam Gifty Twum-Ampofo, Deputy Minister, Gender, Children and Social Protection; and Madam Yvonne Atakora-Obuobisa and Director of Public Prosecutions, Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General.
The US representatives were Mr Christopher J. Lamora, Chargè d'Affairs, US Embassy in Accra and Mr Joel Maybury, Deputy Director, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
The CPC Partnership, signed in Accra, in June 2015, outlines the commitment of the four participating ministries – the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection; the Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of the Interior; and the Ministry of Employment and Labor Relations – and the US Government to work collaboratively to enhance the protection of Ghanaian children and hold traffickers accountable for their crimes through arrests, prosecutions, and convictions.
Mr Baffour-Awuah said the Government was committed to ending human trafficking in the country and thus making sure that CPC agreement was met.
He said his Ministry was working towards the elimination of child labour; stating that the practice was hazardous to the development of children.
Mr Baffour-Awuah said about 1.2 million children were involved in child labour in the country.
He, therefore, urged the media to help the Government in the fight the menace.
He said the Government had placed a ban on travels to work in the Gulf States, as part of measures to curtail the many reported cases of abuse faced by some Ghanaians working in those countries.
It was also putting in place a mechanism, which would ensure a country to country agreement for labour export.
Madam Twum-Ampofo said human trafficking was a crime and that once the perpetrators were arrested they would be brought to book.
She urged the public to expose those who engaged in human trafficking activities for the law to deal with them.
She said this year, the Gender Ministry received GH¢ 500,000 as the allocation to the Anti-Human Trafficking Fund.
She explained that the amount was being used for the renovation of shelter homes for victims of human trafficking.
Madam Atakora-Obuobisa said Ghana had the legal framework to fight human trafficking; citing the Children's Act and the Anti-Human Trafficking Legislation.
This year, there had been 18 convicted child trafficking cases in the law courts, while a number of cases were still pending before the courts, she said.
Mr Lamora, for his part, said the CPC was a five million dollar project, which was being implemented over a five-year period.
He said the Project focuses on the Volta, Central and Greater Accra Regions.
Mr Maybury said since the genesis of the Project, in the partnership with the regions, there had been an increase in the awareness of Child Protection.
There had been also been improved inter-agency coordination on child trafficking cases and increased number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions on child trafficking cases.
However, he said, they were also concerned that there were consistent challenges that impeded the progress towards achieving the CPC objectives.
These challenges include lack of adequate facilities and services for victims of child trafficking; inefficient funding and resources for investigations and operations to remove victims from trafficking situations and for prosecuting perpetrators.
He commended Ghana on its upgrade in the US States Department 2018 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report from Tier Two Watch List to a Tier Two ranking.