Senior officials from the U.S. Government and the Government of the Republic of Ghana met on October 25 to discuss progress in achieving the objectives of the U.S.-Ghana Child Protection Compact (CPC) Partnership – the first-ever jointly-developed plan to address forced child labor and child sex trafficking in Ghana.
The Ghanaian government representatives, the Honorable Otiko Afisa Djaba, Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection and Chair of the Human Trafficking Management Board; the Honorable Ignatius Bafuor Awuah, Minister for Employment and Labor Relations, the DeputyMinisterof Justice Joseph Kpemka, and a representative from the Ministry of the Interior were joined by U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Robert P. Jackson and Kari Johnstone, Acting Director, U.S. State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP Office), during the half-day discussion focused on specific objectives of the five-year Partnership.
"We are pleased to partner with Ghana and we offer our continuing support for this unique Partnership, the first of its kind in the world," commented Acting Director Kari Johnstone.
Many children are vulnerable to human trafficking due to economic hardships in Ghana, and some are subjected to forced child labor within Ghana in fishing, domestic service, street hawking, begging, portering, quarrying, artisanal gold mining, and agriculture. Ghanaian girls, and to a lesser extent boys, are also subjected to sex trafficking within Ghana. A community-level baseline prevalence study conducted by Free the Slaves in 20 communities in 2016, found that 35% of households in the surveyed communities had a victim of trafficking or trafficking-like conditions.
All participants acknowledged the challenges, including Ghana's low number of traffickers prosecuted and convicted under the Human Trafficking Act. The Ghanaian government highlighted several recent successes in the fight against child trafficking:Development and implementation of Ghana's National Plan of Action for the Elimination of Human Trafficking in Ghana (NPA) and disbursement of 1.5 million Ghana cedis ($343,000) for trafficking victims' services in 2017; Government contributions to the renovation of the shelter for child trafficking victims, including a new perimeter fence, and a reliable water supply; Government contributions of ˘80,000 for shelter operations and ˘11,000 for the care of rescued children at three private shelters; Increased efforts by the government, working cooperatively with anti-trafficking NGOs, to mount coordinated operations to remove 159 children from trafficking situations and provide them with assistance, arrest 79 suspected traffickers, and prosecute and convict two traffickers under the anti-trafficking act; Endorsement and plans to implement the Standard Operating Procedures to Combat Human Trafficking in Ghana, which were developed through the interagency CPC Partnership Technical Working Group with support from the International Organization for Migration (IOM); and A commitment to adopting systematic trafficking data collection to enhance the government's ability to monitor and report anti-trafficking activities.
"Our ministries are committed to investing Ghana's resources to fulfill the objectives of the CPC Partnership to ensure Ghanaian children are not subjected to forced labor or sexual exploitation," said Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection Otiko Afisa Djaba.
The TIP Office provided $5 million to two implementing partners, IOM and Free the Slaves, to support achievement of the CPC Partnership's goals and objectives, which include establishing a more holistic approach to improving coordination of government and civil society anti-trafficking efforts; enhancing Ghana's capacity to investigate, prosecute, and convict child traffickers and recorded data on these activities; expanding specialized services for child trafficking victims; and increasing public awareness of the nature of child trafficking, its devastating impact on children, and promoting prevention of this crime.
Through U.S. government funding under the CPC Partnership, IOM provided the Ghana Police Service Anti-Human Trafficking Units with six vehicles and investigative equipment and organized 22 training programs for approximately 500 individuals from the Ghana police and immigration services, social welfare department, labor department, attorney general's department, and the judiciary. The trainings focused on identification and screening of human trafficking victims, direct assistance, as well as investigation, prosecution, and adjudication of child trafficking cases.
Free the Slaves, in collaboration with local NGO partners International Needs Ghana, Right to be Free, Challenging Heights, Don Bosco Child Protection Center, and Partners in Community Development trained 114 traditional authorities and local government officials in identifying and appropriately responding to child trafficking, worked with local communities and law enforcement to remove 127 children and eight adults from labor trafficking situations, provided 196 individuals with shelter and other services, reached more than 7,600 people through awareness raising activities, and convened a national symposium that approximately 100 stakeholders attended to develop strategies to combat trafficking.
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 United States of America to work collaboratively to enhance the protection of Ghanaian children and hold traffickers accountable for their crimes through arrests, prosecutions, and convictions. Activities have focused primarily in the three regions of Volta, Central, and Greater Accra.