The United States Ambassador to Ghana, Mr. Robert P. Jackson has said, he is satisfier with the progress being made so far by the government of Ghana, in tackling the issues of Child Labour and Human Trafficking, at a press conference at the end of the First Annual US-Ghana Child Protection Compact (CPC) Partnership High Level Consultation in Accra.
According to him, although a lot had been achieved in the area of training for the requisite authorities including prosecutors, the Police and Judiciary, in rescuing trafficked persons, and as well as enslaved children, there is much more to be done.
He noted that, Ghana had been on the global watch list for the past two years, with 2017 marking its third, because not much was being done to curb the high incidence of Child Labour, especially in the mining and cocoa growing communities, and also human trafficking, which was assuming an alarming proportion.
He went on to say that, the five-year CPC Partnership was signed by the former US Ambassador to Ghana and the former Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection on June 23, 2015 with participation by the Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, and the Attorney General.
The CPC, according to him, aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of Ghana’s effort to combat child trafficking by collaboratively building systems of justice and protection, that held perpetrators of child sex and labour trafficking accountable under the laws of Ghana.
It also sort to ensure that, child trafficking victims received comprehensive, gender sensitive services that fostered their recovery and community integration.
The Compact he said, provided funds to the tune of $5m, for the training of the requisite authorities, and also the provision of other critical services such as shelter for rescued victims and their rehabilitation and reintegration into the community.
In his accession, the current progress in the prosecution of a number of perpetrators in these crimes, while some investigations are still going on, the level of improvement in the services of rescued victims, then it gives us hope that the country is on course to achieving its goal.
Mr. Peter Jackson said, the High Level Consultations, provided an opportunity to take stock of progress made during the Partnership’s first two years, and to further affirm the shared commitment of the partners to meeting the goals and objectives stipulated in the document.
He therefore commended the various partners and stakeholders including Non-governmental Organizations, working hard to ensure the elimination of child labour and human trafficking in the country.
On her part, Otiko Afisah Djaba, Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, said a lot was being done in the areas including empowering families, especially women, with skills and seed capitals to be able to take care of their dependents.
Citing the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme, the Free Senior High School (Free-SHS) Policy, and the One District One Factory (1D1F), as some of the powerful social protection interventions being pursued by the government to combat extreme poverty among deprived communities and also ensure equity and quality in education.
Hon. Otiko Djaba also said the Ministries of Gender, and the Employment and Labour Relations, had been at the forefront to rescue children who were engaged in hazardous works, especially in fishing communities in the Volta and Central Regions, and also on cocoa farms and artisanship in mining areas across the country.
She however added that, the Gender Ministry had also provided potable water and other additional services for the Madina Shelter for trafficked victims, and was committed to partner with all stakeholders to ensure the total elimination of child labour and human trafficking in Ghana.
On the other hand, the Minister for Employment and Labour Relations,
Mr. Ignatious Baffour Awuah, conceded the challenge was huge, but said several structures including tougher and punitive measures, had been put in place to combat the menace.
He emphasised, the negative impact, not mentioning the socio-economic costs of child labour, has paved the way for the stronger partnerships from all angles, in winning this fight.
Mr. Joseph Kpemka, the Deputy Attorney General, in his submission also said, Government has strengthened the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of the Ghana Police Service for proper prosecution, and the closer collaboration with the judiciary with specialized selection of Attorneys, solely for such types of cases at the special courts, would hopefully do away with these challenges soon.
The Deputy Attorney General assured that, the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General would collaborate with all stakeholders in order to eliminate the canker of child labour and trafficking of humans in the country.