The United States Ambassador to Ghana, Mr. Robert Porter Jackson has urged Ghana to increase its effort fighting child trafficking or risk losing the $500 million dollars grant from the Millennium Development Co-operation Challenge Account given annually to the country.
This warning follows Ghana’s abysmal ranking in the US Department of State’s 2016 Trafficking Report.
According to the report, Ghana was ranked as a Tier Two Watch List country for the second year running.
This ranking implies that Ghana failed to provide evidence of increasing efforts to fight human trade as minimum standards for preventing trafficking in persons were not met.
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Therefore, Mr. Jackson warned that, if Ghana failed to increase efforts in combating human trafficking in the coming years, it would risk dropping to the Tier Three and that under the United States law, a Tier Three ranking would trigger restrictions on US assistance programmes to Ghana.
He disclosed this at the commencement of a 3-day training workshop on Adjudicating Trafficking in Persons Cases at the West Africa Regional Training Centre organized in Accra for circuit and high court judges and magistrates.
The training was organised by the US Embassy through the US-Ghana Child Protection Compact and the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. Ambassador Jackson said: “This is something neither you nor I wish to see happen. At the same time, I do not want that to be the reason Ghana steps up its efforts against trafficking. Please do not combat trafficking because I asked you to, combat it because it is the right thing to do,” he noted.
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According to the ambassador, the rights of people who are victims of trafficking have been abused violating international laws and conventions and the US is determined to end it. The human trafficking was a huge industry in the world with an estimated $150 billion dollars industry, which could be equated to slavery. “No country in the world is immune to human trafficking,” he stated, adding that thousands of people were trafficked each year for use as commercial sex workers, factory laborers, crop pickers, manicurists and other menial jobs and must stop’’. The Ambassador, therefore, implored judges and magistrates to bring traffickers to justice because their actions violated the country’s laws as well as that of international laws and conventions.
READ ALSO: Supreme Court declares Gitmo 2 in Ghana unconstitutional He urged judges to use every means at their disposal to ease the logistical and psychological burdens of trafficking trials for victims to prevent delays and to deliver justice, even to ensure respect for the rights of the accused.
He cited the Volta Region as becoming a hub for trafficking as people use the Volta Lake to transfer children.
He said the Ghana Police Service, Civil Society Organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations launched an anti-human trafficking campaign and that efforts resulted in the rescue of some children from the Volta Lake. He said those rescued had seriously been abused with some having evidence of broken bones and bruises. He said those trafficked children and women were often forced into prostitution and forced labour that were detrimental to their health and wellbeing. The US Ambassador stated that the traffickers should be convicted for their crimes to serve as deterrent to others.