The United States of America has again highlighted Ghana’s failings in the fight against human trafficking, and the potential effect on aid received from the country as part of the Millennium Challenge Compact (MCC).
Speaking at a two-day workshop on trafficking, the US Ambassador to Ghana, Robert Jackson, revealed that Ghana risks losing the $500 million Millennium Challenge Compact funds, if the government fails to improve efforts in the fight against human trafficking.
The US Department of State had Ghana ranked as a tier 2 watch-list country in 2016, marking the second consecutive year the country had been given that status.
Mr. Jackson described the Volta Region as “the nexus of trafficking” in Ghana, explaining that “if we go to the Volta Region, I can buy five children for what it costs to buy an outboard motor for a boat, and no country is immune.” Lamenting on the lack of prosecution for child trafficking offences, he bemoaned that “for too long, Ghana’s courts have not convicted people for this crime.
There are plenty of victims so there must be criminals as well. What this means is that, Ghana does not meet the minimum standards for combating trafficking in persons,” Mr. Jackson noted. He said this means that Ghana risks “losing assistance from USAID. It risks losing the $500 million Millennium Challenge Account Compact.”
Ghana’s status on the Tier 2 watch-list means that, it does not fully meet the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards, but it is making significant efforts to meet those standards. For countries in this watch-list, the absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is deemed to be very significant, and there is also a highlighted failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year, with the failure to provide adequate and timely operating funds for law enforcement and protection agencies cited in Ghana’s case.
The US Department of State, in its 2016 report, noted Ghana as a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. The department indicates further that, Ghanaian boys and girls are subjected to forced labor within the country in fishing, domestic service, street hawking, begging, portering, artisanal gold mining, quarrying, herding, and agriculture.
The Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of the Ghana Police Service is said to have reported 238 investigations, and referred 21 individuals for prosecution for trafficking-related crimes, but the government reported no convictions in 2015. The US Ambassador’s comments come on the back of the US’s commitment of $5 million to fight child trafficking in Ghana. This grant will be given over a period of four years.