ADI LAUD O. AFFRIFAH Accra, April 19, GNA – Journalists have been urged to intensify public education and awareness on the Immigration Amendment Act, 2012 (Act 848) and its prescribed sanctions, to facilitate the clamping down of human smuggling and irregular migration in Ghana.
Section 52A (3) of the Act which makes migrant smuggling an offense punishable by law, describes the act to mean ‘the facilitation of the unlawful entry or departure from the country of a person in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit’.
Assistant Director of Immigration Laud Affrifah, of the Upper West Regional Command Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), who gave the advice in Accra on Thursday, described the media as an ally in combating the high incidence of migrant smuggling and human trafficking.
He extolled the critical role journalists play in keeping the citizenry abreast of information.
Mr Affrifah was speaking at a seminar on Human Smuggling and Trafficking and the Thematic Programme on Migration and Asylum, which was organised in Accra for journalists by the GIS with the support of the European Union.
He said the application of the law targeted the migrant smugglers in order to break their front and to punish them.
He described the perpetrators to include criminal rings, travel and tour agencies, recruiters, transporters, some Government officials and Embassy officials, a few religious leaders and traditional rulers.
Mr Affrifah said Ghana had become a source, transit and destination country for migrant smuggling.
He added that upon conviction, a smuggler could either be fined between GH¢ 7,500 and GH¢ 15,000 or a term of imprisonment of not less than five years or more than 10 years or both.
He expressed worry that activities of smugglers had undermined the integrity of Ghana’s travelling documents and other related papers.
Mr Affrifah called on National Security to ensure that stakeholders contribute towards global security in terms of countering terrorism, money laundering and drug trafficking.
Madam Judith Dzokoto, Assistant Director of Immigration said United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Region are the major destinations of migrant smuggling.
She said fees paid to smugglers from Ghana to USA or Canada is 10,000 dollars. Others are 6,000 Euros from Ghana to Europe and 4,000 pounds from Ghana to United Kingdom.
Madam Dzokoto added ‘Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans transiting to USA and Canada have quoted 15,000 dollars as fees paid to smugglers’.
She said interventions such as establishment of specialised desks, units at the GIS, capacity-building workshops, migrants smuggling database, establishment of fraud office at the Kotoka International Airport and the Document Fraud Expertise Centre had contributed towards preventing and combating migrant smuggling.
Madam Dzokoto urged journalists to intensify their public education and awareness on migrant smuggling in order to make Ghana meet the international standards in curbing the crime.
Assistant Commissioner of Immigration Francis Palmdeti, Head of Public Affairs, GIS, said the purpose of the seminar was to build the capacity of the participants on key issues relating to migrant smuggling and human trafficking.
He advised journalist to warn the public through their reportage on the dangers involved in migrant smuggling and human trafficking.