Ghana faces US sanctions for failure to tackle human trafficking

Ghana has for the second time in a row been ranked as a Tier 2 Watch List country in the 2016 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report.

This means that the government of Ghana did not meet the minimum standards for preventing trafficking in persons and failed to provide evidence of increasing efforts to prevent the menace.

The United States (US) Ambassador to Ghana, Mr. Robert Jackson announced this in Accra yesterday at a media launch ahead of the World Day against Trafficking in Persons also called the “Blue Day”.

Slated for July 30 under the theme, “Let us unite to end human trafficking: It is real”, the occasion calls on stakeholders to end impunity of perpetrators of human trafficking and assist victims to realise their full potentials.

Addressing the media, Mr. Jackson disclosed that the lack of prosecution or conviction of traffickers, decline in number of victims identified, inadequate funding for law enforcement training and nonexistent shelters for victims placed the country on the watch list category.

He said, Ghana could be subjected to a Tier 3 ranking which comes with restrictions on bilateral assistance next year if government failed to tackle trafficking in a far more deliberate manner.

“Under the U.S law, any country designated as Tier 2 Watch List two years in a row must be automatically downgraded to Tier 3 the following year unless the government shows sufficient progress to warrant a Tier 2 or 1 ranking”, he stated.

Mr. Jackson charged stakeholders to increase efforts at combating the menace through funding investigations and prosecution, cracking down on fraudulent recruiting agencies, convicting and punishing traffickers and protecting persons who have been victimised.

“We have a moral obligation to end this slavery by taking a holistic approach to combat trafficking, bring together multiple government agencies, the private sector, civil societies, faith communities, academics and of course, survivors”, he urged.

The Executive Secretary of the Human Trafficking Secretariat at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MOGCSP), Victoria Natsu said government was stepping up efforts to address the menace through enhanced awareness creation and capacity building for stakeholders and the public to deepen understanding of issues of trafficking and irregular migration.

This, she said would improve the detection, investigation and prosecution of suspected traffickers as well as ensure a comprehensive victim protection system.

Mrs. Natsu called for a collaborative effort to break the demand chain in child trafficking and exploitation to protect the vulnerable in society.

Mr. Affail Monney, the President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) charged the media to highlight the dangers of human trafficking in their reportage to reduce its impact on the citizenry.

“Though we are in a political season and many of our reports will be skewed to such area, issues on national importance as this are begging for attention and we must prioritize and scale up awareness on ending human trafficking”, he charged.

The event, held under the auspices of MOGCSP in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), was attended by representatives from the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), International Labour Organization (ILO), the Criminal Investigation Department of the Ghana Police Service and Coalition of Non-governmental Organisation (NGOs) in human trafficking.

By Abigail Annoh 

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