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Ghana fails to investigate 190,000 suspected human trafficking cases

An estimated 190,000 suspected human trafficking cases in Ghana have not been investigated as a result of inadequate funding for the institutions responsible for such investigations, a report by Perfecto of Sentiments Foundation has revealed. These were recorded between 2012 and 2017.

The report, which was released recently during the 3rd Cycle Universal Periodic Review, mentioned that “The State’s failure to investigate and prosecute the suspected 190,000 cases of trafficking in Ghana has been attributed to inadequate funding for the Anti Human Trafficking Unit, DOVVSU and   the Department of Social Welfare.”

The study also revealed that Ghana still does not have shelters and other resources to cater for rescued victims even though Ghana has nine regional Anti-Human Trafficking Units. The report pointed out that “State actors with the mandate to oversee the implementation of the Human Trafficking Act 2005, (Act 694) continue to be under resourced and do not have the right tools and equipment to carry out their responsibilities as set out in the law.” As a result, very few cases of trafficking are prosecuted every year.

Ghana, the report said, remains a source, transit and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking, adding that more women are being trafficked to the Middle East, West African countries and Europe for forced labor and commercial sex work.

It referenced that, the 2017 trafficking in Person Report identified that the Government of Ghana does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The country has remained on Tier 2 Watch List for the third consecutive year.

To this  end,    the  report proposed  an  increase in  the number of traffickers held accountable for their crimes by providing sufficient support for police and immigration service investigators and prosecutors and state prosecutors to effectively investigate and prosecute sex trafficking and labor trafficking offenses using the anti-trafficking act and also construct and furnish shelters for rescued trafficked persons.

It further identified that very little sensitization has been done to prevent young women from being trafficked especially to the Middle East and young women continue to be enticed with false promises of high paying jobs by local agents who recruit them for their counterparts in the Middle East. Experts say, the situation is alarming.

In 2007, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) set up an Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) within the Ghana Police Service to rescue victims, arrest, and prosecute perpetrators.

With support and input from stakeholders, the government drafted a National Plan of Action for the Elimination of Human Trafficking in Ghana: 2017-2021 which is still pending final approval.

In 2014, the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of the Ghana Police Service (AHTU) in collaboration with some NGOs rescued 33 trafficked and at-risk children, while 41 child slaves were rescued in the Lake Volta area in 2015.

Twenty-one (21) minors who had been trafficked to South Africa were recently rescued by the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection (MoGCSP) in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the AHTU.

Despite Ghana enacting the Human Trafficking Act 2005(Act 694) under the 1992 Constitution that promotes the protection of the human rights of the citizenry, including women and children, Human Trafficking is still recorded high in Ghana.

 

By: Latifa Carlos

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