Adakope residents foil police rescue of alleged trafficked children

Some residents of Ada­kope, a fishing community, on Wednesday chased out a 17-member police team on a mission in the area to rescue alleged trafficked children.

A section of the members of the community near Dambai, the capital of Oti Region, did not take kindly to the mission of the police in the commu­nity along the bank of Lake Volta upon tip-off to rescue 21 children said to be used for dangerous fishing activities on the lake.

Some of the people burnt tyres and threatened to set the police personnel ablaze, while others threw stones at the police vehicle used on the mission.

A source that pleaded ano­nymity said the police arrived in the community after midnight for the rescue children, but the residents were ready to mobilise to stop it.

It said “at a point, the police had to fire warning shots to check the chaos”, but could not accomplish their mission.

It must be recalled that on the October 4, this year, a similar operation rescued nine children, none older than 12 years, and arrested five suspected traffick­ers.

That was also a midnight strike in the same Adakope community.

According to the narrations by some of the rescued chil­dren, they are engaged in child labour and sometimes beaten by their “masters”, who do not care much about their health.

Therefore, they had to contend with all manner of ailments, including Bilharzia and skin diseases and were always yearning to go back home.

What is reported as happen­ing at Adakope involves two crimes — child trafficking and child labour.

According to the Human Trafficking Act, 2005 amended in 2009, a person who provides another person for purposes of trafficking commits an offence even where the person is a par­ent and the person is liable on summary conviction to a term of imprisonment of not less than five years.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO), states that “Child labour is work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and interferes with their schooling by depriving them of the opportunity to attend school; obliging them to leave school prematurely; or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.”

Legislation like the Children’s Act of 1998, the Labour Act of 2003 and the Domestic Violence Act, 2006 (Act 732) stipulates criminal offences and punishments to protect children from economic exploitation, inhumane treatment, and child labour.

For instance, anyone who is convicted for child labour shall pay a fine not exceeding GH¢1000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both.

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