The Central Regional Social Welfare Department says the excuse of feigning ignorance or blaming child trafficking on poverty will no longer be tolerated.
It said legal action would be taken against anyone engaging in then act, which had become necessary to stem a fresh wave of the violation, particularly along the coastal communities, to make it a high-risk venture for perpetrators.
“We are bent on prosecuting to serve as a deterrent to perpetrators this year,” Madam Monica Siaw, the Central Regional Director of the Department, said in an interview with the Ghana News Agency.
The Children’s Act of 1998, Act 560, prohibits exploitative child labour for
activities that deprive children of their health, education or development.
It provides that the minimum age for admission of a child to employment shall be 15 years whereas 18 years is the minimum age for the engagement of a person in hazardous work, such as going to sea and mining.
Contrary to the law, Madam Siaw said children as young as five years old were being engaged in all forms of exploitative labour, including going to sea.
She said in the Central Region, majority of the children from areas such as Gomoa Effutu, Senya Bereku, and Ekumfi were usually trafficked with the consent of their parents under the pretext of taking them on holidays but they never returned.
Madam Siaw cited an instance late last year, when some 30 children who were being bussed from Gomoa Dago to Yeji in the Bono East Region near the Volta Lake were rescued by the police at Assin Fosu.
“If the child is sent there and doesn’t go to school or learn any trade, what happens to that child’s future? He has no skills for employment, so he becomes a liability instead of an asset to the nation.”
She said the situation was getting better due to sensitisation and education by the Department, until last year when the cases began to soar.
“We never thought they would do that again after all the education, we have decided to prosecute offenders this year and we will leave no stone unturned,” Madam Siaw said.
“And so parents and guardians, who engage in the act, should take serious note.”