Lordina calls for more efforts to stop human trafficking

By
Lydia Asamoah, GNA

Abidjan, Sept 15,
GNA – First Lady Lordina Mahama has called for intensified efforts at stopping
the criminals involved in human trafficking, especially in Ghana, and within
the sub-region.

She said some of the
wicked actions against victims of trafficking were rape, forced pregnancy and
forced labour adding, “These are the worst forms of human rights violations,
and crimes against humanity”.

Speaking at a Summit
in Abidjan, Mrs Mahama said Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire as neighbouring countries
with a common culture and common people living side by side, needed to work
together to implement all protocols, to eliminate all forms of human
trafficking and child labour.

The Summit, hosted
by Madam Dominique Ouattara, the First Lady of Cote d’Ivoire, was held to discuss
how to end cross-border human trafficking and the worst forms of child labour
in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.

The two first ladies
also signed a joint declaration affirming their commitment to fight against
Human Trafficking and the worst forms of child labour in all economic sectors
in their respective countries.

Mrs Mahama commended
her Ivorian counterpart for her initiative to tackle such a complicated issue,
describing the meeting as timely and relevant, especially as Africa was
consolidating its gains and achievements, in strengthening its democracies and
the involvement of its people in Government.

“Having missed the
ECOWAS Action plan target of eliminating worst forms of child labour by 2013,
today’s historic event, gives us yet another opportunity, to ensure that the
objectives set out in this agreement are achieved,” she said.

“This is important,
as it has to do with finally putting an end to the undignified treatment of our
people and children.”

She said even though
Ghana, unfortunately, was considered one of the countries of origin, transit
and destination for men, women and children subjected to forced labour and sex
trafficking, it would continue to join the International Community to work
against human trafficking and child labour abuses.

The First Lady
announced that Ghana’s Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations; Ministry of
Gender Children and Social Protection and the Ministry of the Interior, would
collaborate with their Ivorian counterparts, to come out with a blueprint of
implementing a Plan of Action against human trafficking

Ghana would also
continue to collaborate with key players at the West Africa sub-regional level
to address the cross border human trafficking, and worst forms of child labour
issues, she added.

Mrs Mahama stated
that the Government was very much committed to fully implementing and
integrating the relevant international, regional and sub-regional legal
instruments, which tackles human trafficking and the worst forms of child
labour.

“I am aware that Ghana
has taken significant steps in this regard, especially, following the
undercover report by Ghana’s Investigative Journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, on
human trafficking, which revealed a number of troubling issues and evil acts of
traffickers”.

She explained that
since 2002, when the issue of human trafficking in Ghana first gained
international attention, the Government had taken measures to prevent these
inhuman acts by the adoption of an Anti-Human Trafficking Act (2005) and the
establishment of an Anti-Human Trafficking Unit within the Police Force and the
Immigration Service.

She said Ghana had
also established the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of the Ghana Police Service at
the Regional Command Headquarters in nine regions of the country.

Additionally, the
Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) has also established the Anti-Human Trafficking
Desk in Accra, and at three major border crossings points at Elubo to the West,
Aflao to the East and Paga to the North of Ghana.

Mrs Mahama said
understanding cross-border trafficking brought out the reality and the
complicated nature of the situation at hand whereas the activities and
unregulated recruitment agencies, who made promises of providing jobs in the
Middle East, specifically the Gulf States, made it even more difficult and
complex.

According to the
United Nations, about 2.4 million people are trafficked at every point, a
practice, which generates 32 billion dollars annual profit for traffickers.

In recent years,
both the governments in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire have taken steps towards
addressing child trafficking in the industry.

These include the
ratification of international treaties and conventions and the capacity
building of law enforcement officials and the judiciary.

Mrs Mahama said the
trafficking networks had also taken the opportunity offered by the ECOWAS free
movement instruments to facilitate their operations, while unapproved border
crossings along the border with Cote d’Ivoire offered a challenge to security
services.

“In this regard, our
governments, the United Nations, the Africa Union, ECOWAS and other
international organisations, must ensure that perpetrators of human trafficking
and child labour abuses are held to account for their actions, she said.

If that is not done,
people’s rights would continue to be violated, and the crimes will persist”.

There must be
institutions, and structures, to hold individuals and organisations accountable
for their actions, and impose punishments, provide adequate and timely support
services, including counselling and shelters, for victim survivors,” Mrs Mahama
said.

She, however,
recommended the establishing of a secured combined cross border
anti-trafficking database, between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire and a comprehensive
response action plan, to confront the issue of human trafficking and the worst
forms of child labour.

On her part, Madam
Ouattara commended the technical committee, which drafted the declaration
saying, that would go a long way to intensify the efforts of both countries to
combat human trafficking.

She said even though
Cote d’Ivoire had put in place measures to protect its people from human
trafficking, the menace was still ongoing.

She, however,
expressed the hope that the collaboration would help the two neighbouring
countries to protect its citizens from trafficking activities.

GNA

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