Over the weekend, the graduate (MPHIL) students of the Centre for conflict, Human Rights and Peace Studies (CHRAPS) at the University of Education Winneba, joined the Partners in Community Development Program (PACODEP) and personnel from the social welfare on a study tour to observe the realities of Child Trafficking and Child slavery on the Volta Lake.
The tour was to enable the students ascertain and contribute to the ongoing discourse on child trafficking on the Volta lake.
In Kete Krachi, the students took the bull by the horn to be on the water to observe the happenings. To the surprise of some students and participants, they saw that almost every canoe on the lake had a child or two bonded to their Maters to fish, and they were so saddened.
Children between 5 to 13 years were spotted on the lake fishing with their “masters”. A seven year old Isaac (not his real name) who was trafficked from Ekumpoano in the central region to Kete Krachi Islands, was rescued by the team at 8:40 Am.
According to him, he came to the Island a year ago and always had to start work at 4 o’clock Am each day. “I had been brought here to work on the water to fish a year now and I have not been to school “he said.
The graduate students rescued 4 children (boys) on the Lake who had eaten little food or with no food until they were able to make a good catch. They were malnourished. Upon interrogations, two of the children couldn’t tell their ages nor their biological parents, because they were trafficked at a younger age. “Slave Masters” of these children had conditioned them never to tell rescuers they had not been to school.
They have brainwashed the children that, rescuers are wicked and torturers so they should never allow themselves for anyone to lure them into education. “My Master said you people are wicked and will beat us so we should not come to you” said one of the children.
They had no slippers on and looking very feeble because of the long hours on the water and they were exposed to the cold as well.
Dr. Harrison Kwame Golo, a Senior Lecturer and Human Rights and International Development expert who had done extensive work on Child trafficking and slavery in Ghana, was taken aback that the situation had not changed.
He said “most of these children you see are bonded child labour, trafficked here to pay off debts their biological or social parents incurred. It looks like the situation is getting better but the duty bearers must enforce the existing Human Trafficking Laws to fight this slavery.”
The children became happier after the students gave them food and water. One said he wants to go to school and another wanted to be a footballer, because he was skillful on ball. The children were however, handed over to PACODEP and the personnel from the Department of Social Welfare.
Child Protection by the State
is that, the government ensuring the protection, survival and the development of all the children in the country? How well is government with all the child protection agencies helping to abolish child trafficking and slavery in Ghana?
It is 30 years since Ghana ratified the Convention on the Right of the Child (CRC). Should we be satisfied with how government is intervening to end child slavery?
The Government of Ghana, being the first country to adhere to the CRC by ratifying the Convention on January 29, 1990, has implemented programs and laws to end human (child) trafficking. This brought into light the enactment of Ghana’s national legislation in 2005, known as the Human Trafficking Act (Act 694), thus making human trafficking a criminal offence with perpetrators liable to at least five years of imprisonment.
In the same vein in 2009, the Parliament also enacted the Human Trafficking Amendment Act (Act 784), that included several updated sections and after 4 years, the Parliament enacted Legislative Instrument, (L.I ) 2219, titled: Human Trafficking Prohibition (Protection and Reintegration of Trafficked Persons) regulations, 2015.
These three important laws constitute the legal framework for combating human trafficking and child slavery in Ghana and exist together with the 1998 Children’s Act (Act 560), the 1960 Criminal Act (Act 29) and the 1960 Criminal Procedure Act (Act 30).
These legal instruments should have been enough to eradicate this canker on our rural waters across the country. However, the nefarious business activities of Child trafficking keep soaring due to high poverty.
How are the government’s anti-poverty interpositions helping to expunge this blight? It seems the government antipoverty programs, instead, creates more poverty than ever. Parents sell off their children into bonded slavery due to abject poverty and frustration they go through.
“Can we fight poverty to abolish child slavery? If yes, what are we waiting for as a nation that prioritizes child protection? The students therefore, remarked that, Child Trafficking and Slavery is real on the Volta Lake.
Meanwhile, CHRAPS intend to embark on such practical study tour and trips in other countries to experience the realities of child trafficking and human rights issues that undermines growth and development of the child.