The US is worried that the West African state of Ghana is a major source, transit and destination country for children and women trafficked for the purposes of forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation.
The 2008 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report of the US Department of State released in Accra on Monday by the US Embassy said women and children were trafficked for sexual exploitation from Ghana to Western Europe, from Nigeria through Ghana to Western Europe, and from Burkina Faso through Ghana to Cote d’Ivoire.
Children are also trafficked to and from other West African countries like Gambia, Togo, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire for the same purposes, the Ghana News Agency (GNA) reported.
The report, however, noted that trafficking within Ghana was more prevalent than trans-national trafficking, with the majority of the victims being children.
It said both boys and girls were trafficked within Ghana for forced labour, domestic servitude and sexual exploitation. They were also trafficked to work in agriculture and the fishing industry; as porters and for street hawking.
The report said Ghana was also becoming a destination for sex tourists.
It said even though the government of Ghana had not fully complied with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficked persons, it was making “significant efforts to do so”.
“While Ghana took some law enforcement steps to address sex trafficking through police raids in the last year, there were limited investigations and prosecutions and no convictions of perpetrators of this crime,” it said.
The report also cited corruption among law enforcement officials as an obstacle to effective anti-trafficking measures in Ghana.
Ghana prohibits any form of trafficking and the law prescribes a minimum penalty of five years imprisonment for all forms of trafficking.
The report recommended that Ghana strengthened its overall efforts to prosecute and convict traffickers, investigate and close down brothels selling children in to prostitution and prosecute brothel operators.
It also recommended the suspension of government officials accused of complicity in their official duties in any case of trafficking until such an official is prosecuted or cleared of the allegations.
The report recommended the development of a system for providing secure care for rescued sex trafficked victims, the creation of increased shelter space for victims and training of government social workers in identifying trafficked victims a mong girls and women in prostitution.
Meanwhile, a Ghanaian investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw, has won an a ward from the US Department of State for being consistent in contributing to the elimination of human trafficking.
His reports last year led to the uncovering of two major human trafficking rings in Ghana that exploited children, resulting in the rescue of young girls that would otherwise have been sold into sexual slavery.
The US Department of State Award – Trafficking in Persons Award – was instituted last year to recognize individuals and institutions worldwide whose efforts had led to the elimination of trafficking in humans.
Anas was among 12 persons who won the award worldwide for this year and one of two people in Africa to receive the honour from the US. Panapress.