Over the weekend saw the graduate (Mphil) students of the Centre for conflict, Human Rights and Peace Studies (CHRAPS) at the University of Education Winneba, joining the Partners in Community Development Program (PACODEP) and personnel from the social welfare on a study tour to observe the realities of Child Trafficking and Child slavery on the Volta Lake. This is to enable the students ascertain and contribute to the ongoing discourse on child trafficking on the Volta lake.
In Kete Krachi where the students took the bull by the horn to be on the water to observe the happenings, they observed children in all the canoes who have been bonded by their ‘masters’, a situation that brought tears to their eyes.
Children between 5 to 13 years were spotted on the lake fishing with their “masters”. A seven year old Isaac (not his real name) who was trafficked from Ekumpoano in the central region to Kete Krachi Islands, was rescued by the team at 8:40 Am. According to him, he came to the Island a year ago and always had to start work at 4 o’clock am each day. “I had been brought here and work on the water to fish a year now and I have not been to school “he said.
Among the students was Lawyer Francis Xavier Sossu who interacted with Mynewsghana said, “It is sad seeing these innocent children in the cold with empty stomachs on this Lake. We have to protect our children and get them the best means to groom them for the future”. He further said the onus rest on the State to protect and develop our children for the interest of the child and the State.
ILAPI Boss, Mr. Bismark Kwofie, who was in the team expressed worry and quizzed “how can we allow these small boys to be on this lake at dawn only to pay the price of pain for the prize of failure and a hopeless future?”
The graduate students rescued 4 children (boys) on the Lake who had eaten little food or with no food until they are able to make a good catch. They were malnourished and upon interrogations, two of the children do know their ages and biological parents because they were trafficked at a younger age than we thought. “Slave Masters” of these children had conditioned them never to tell rescuers they had not been to school. Betty Kuwornu, a student, said, “They (slave masters) had told the children that, rescuers are wicked and torturers so they should never allow for anyone to lure them into education”. My Master said you people are wicked and will beat us so we should not come to you” said one of the children.
The children had no slippers on them and looking very feeble because of the long hours on the water and the cold they had been exposed to.
The children became happier after the students had given them food and water. One said, he wants to go to school and another, wants to be a footballer because he is skillful on the ball. The rescued children were handed over to PACODEP and the personnel from Department of Social Welfare.
Is the government ensuring the protection, survival and the development of all children in the country? How well is government with all the child protection agencies helping to abolish child trafficking and slavery in Ghana? It is 30 years since Ghana ratified the Convention on the Right of the Child (CRC). Should we be satisfied with how government is intervening to end child slavery?
The Government of Ghana being the first country to adhere to the CRC by ratifying the Convention on January 29, 1990 has implemented programs and laws to end human (child) trafficking. This brought into light the enactment of Ghana’s national legislation in 2005, known as the Human Trafficking Act (Act 694), thus making human trafficking a criminal offence with perpetrators liable to at least five years of imprisonment.
In the same vein in 2009, the Parliament also enacted the Human Trafficking Amendment Act (Act 784), that included several updated sections and after 4 years, the Parliament enacted Legislative Instrument, (L.I) 2219, titled: Human Trafficking Prohibition (Protection and Reintegration of Trafficked Persons) regulations, 2015. These three important laws constitute the legal framework for combating human trafficking and child slavery in Ghana and exist together with the 1998 Children’s Act (Act 560), the 1960 Criminal Act (Act 29) and the 1960 Criminal Procedure Act (Act 30).
These legal instruments should have been enough to eradicate this canker on our rural waters across the country. However, the nefarious business activities of Child trafficking keep soaring due to high poverty. How are the government’s anti-poverty interpositions helping to expunge this blight? It seems the government antipoverty programs, instead, creates more poverty than ever.
Parents sell off their children into bonded slavery due to abject poverty and frustration they go through. Can we fight poverty to abolish child slavery? If yes, what are we waiting for as a nation that prioritizes child protection?
At the end, Students remarked that, Child Trafficking and Slavery is real on the Volta Lake.
Source: Peter Bismark