Sylvia Lopez – Ekrah presenting the keys to the vehicles to Mr David Asante Apeatu with the support of the US Ambassador to Ghana Robert Jackson, the minister of Interior Ambrose Dery and other senior police officers.
The United States Government, through the International Organization for Migration (IOM), has presented six vehicles, computers and its accessories valued at $185,000 to support the work of the Anti – Human Trafficking Unit of the Ghana Police Service.
The donation was made under the child protection compact agreement reached between the governments of Ghana and the United States of America in 2015.
It is also part of a grant of $5 million by the US Government to support the efforts of the government of Ghana in the fight against human trafficking over a five-year period.
The vehicles included three Toyota pickup vehicles, two Toyota Hiace mini buses and a civilian bus together with some computers and its accessories.
The Inspector General of Police, David Asante-Apeatu, in an address, said the service has over the years collaborated with key stakeholders to wage war against human trafficking.
He said Ghana has been considered as a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking.
“This resulted in a tier 2 ranking of the nation by the US State Department for two consecutive years.
The situation, he noted, calls for intense and deliberate efforts by the police and its key partners to map out more effective and result oriented strategies aimed at surmounting this challenge.
The IGP said criminal gangs engaged in human trafficking are constantly devising new and more sophisticated means to outwit law enforcers and abuse their victims.
“A joint effort is critical to counter the activities of these criminal gangs.”
The Minister of Interior Ambrose Dery said Ghana has been placed on tier 2 watch – list of the US Department Trafficking in Persons report for 2015 and if Ghana does not improve its ranking, Ghana risked being denied US aid and grant to the tune of over $600 million per annum.
“In view of this, the president has issued a directive to the Ministry of Finance to ensure that adequate funds are released in the 2017 budget to all stakeholder Ministries, Departments and Agencies to address the critical issue, as outlined in the recommendation of the 2015 TIP report.”
He said the security agencies alone cannot fight the menace without the support of the general public and the media, adding that all must get involved in the fight against the national canker.
The Chief of Mission, International Organisation for Migration, (IOM) Sylvia Lopez –Ekrah, in an address, said International organization for Migration has been tackling trafficking since 2002 in partnership with the police.
She said for the past 15 years, they have rescued more than 750 children out of trafficking situations.
“One request we have heard over and over again from the police, while on the field, is the need for more vehicles and equipment to be able to do more.
“The pickups can be used for intelligence gathering at strategic places to plan the rescue operation while the three buses can also be used to transport victims in a safe and dignified way.”
The US Ambassador to Ghana Robert P Jackson, in a remark, said Ghana Police have the authority to send the message of deterrence of child trafficking to the perpetrators.
He said the IOM has trained nearly 150 police officers, investigators and prosecutors to better equip them to address Ghana’s domestic human trafficking challenges.
“After presenting the vehicle, we expect to see the Anti Human Trafficking Unit make use of the equipment, vehicles and training it has received to enforce the laws prohibiting human trafficking,” he stated.
By Linda Tenyah-Ayettey