As a result, Ghana was granted a waiver from an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3.
However, Ghana could be subject to an automatic downgrade to Tier 3 Watch List country for Trafficking in Persons Report in 2018.
If Ghana is downgraded to Tier 3, it will become subject to restrictions on US assistance.
100,000 Ghanaians in modern-day slavery
More than 100,000 men, women, and children in Ghana are suffering in modern-day slavery.
$150 billion human trafficking industry worldwide
Human trafficking is a $150 billion industry and every country — including Ghana and including the United States — must do everything possible to stop this human trade.”
The US Department of State’s 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report ranked Ghana as a Tier 2 Watch List country.
Yesterday, US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, released the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report in Washington, under the theme ‘Enhancing Criminal Accountability and Addressing Challenges in Prosecution Efforts’.
The 2017 TIP Report includes narratives for 187 countries and territories, including the United States.
The goal of the report is to stimulate action and create partnerships around the world in the fight against modern slavery.
It explained that the Trafficking Victims Protection Act provides for a waiver to remain on the Tier 2 Watch List for a third consecutive year if the government develops a national plan of action to combat human trafficking and dedicates sufficient resources for its implementation that, when implemented, would constitute significant efforts to meet the minimum standards.
“Because the Government of Ghana devoted sufficient resources to a written plan of action that, if implemented, would constitute significant efforts to meet the minimum standards, Ghana was granted a waiver from an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3”, it added.
The TIP report’s recommendations for Ghana comprise nine goals and objectives.
It includes increasing the number of traffickers held accountable for their crimes by providing sufficient support for the police, immigration service and attorney general’s office to investigate and prosecute trafficking offences.
In addition, increasing government support for comprehensive trauma-informed care and reintegration services for children in government-operated shelters, including child sex trafficking victims was required.
Ghana is expected to implement the national plan of action against trafficking with dedicated resources, including funding and implementation of the human trafficking fund.
Commenting on the report, U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, Robert Jackson, said “the Government of Ghana has taken initial steps this year to protect Ghanaian men, women and children from being enslaved”.
He urged government to remain vigilant and to fully implement the new national plan of action against trafficking, adding “when funded as promised, Ghana will be better able to prevent and prosecute trafficking and provide support services for victims of trafficking in Ghana”.
According to him, unless Ghanaians work with law enforcement and the courts to bring traffickers to justice, they would continue to commit these horrific crimes.
“This isn’t about what the United States wants Ghana to do. It’s about Ghanaian men, women and children who are suffering because traffickers are allowed to violate Ghana’s laws and morality,” he said.
The U.S. government is funding several programs in Ghana to address trafficking and child labour.
In June 2015, President Mahama and the then Ambassador, Gene Cretz, signed the Child Protection Compact (CPC) Partnership.
The CPC Partnership is a jointly developed, multi-year plan aimed at bolstering current efforts of the government of Ghana and Ghanaian civil society to address child sex trafficking and forced child labour within Ghana. The partnership awarded $5 million in U.S. foreign assistance to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and NGO Free the Slaves to combat forced child labour and child sex trafficking in the Volta, Central, and Greater Accra regions.
Most recently, the CPC Partnership funded training for judges on adjudicating trafficking in persons’ cases.
In addition, the U.S. Department of Labour’s Mobilising Community Action and Promoting Opportunities for Youth in Ghana’s Cocoa-Growing Communities (MOCA) project is providing $4.5 million to empower 40 cocoa-growing communities in the Ashanti and Western Regions to design and implement Community Action Plans (CAPs) to address child labour at the community level.
Additional USDOL projects include $1.5 million to assess the prevalence of child labor in the cocoa sectors of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana; $3 million to assess the effectiveness of interventions in these sectors; and $5 million to develop and implement strategies to reduce child labor and improve working conditions in artisanal and small-scale gold mining.
USAID Ghana’s Sustainable Fisheries Management Project, a $24 million project aimed at rebuilding marine fisheries stocks and catches through adoption of responsible fishing practices, also includes deliberate steps towards reducing child labor and trafficking in the Central Region of Ghana.
“More than 100,000 men, women, and children in Ghana are suffering in modern-day slavery,” added Ambassador Jackson.
“These victims have hopes and dreams and they deserve better than to be enslaved in brothels or sold into slavery on Lake Volta for as little as the price of a bottle of schnapps. Human trafficking is a $150 billion industry and every country — including Ghana and including the United States — must do everything possible to stop this human trade”.