Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 May 2016, 11:51 GMT

Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Ghana

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 4 June 2008
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Ghana, 4 June 2008, available at: [accessed 24 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

GHANA (Tier 2)

Ghana is a source, transit, and destination country for children and women trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Trafficking within the country is more prevalent than transnational trafficking and the majority of victims are children. Both boys and girls are trafficked within Ghana for forced labor in agriculture and the fishing industry, as porters and for street hawking. The Government of Ghana estimated in 2005 that up to 40,000 children worked as porters, or Kayaye, on Ghana's streets. Girls are trafficked within the country for domestic servitude and sexual exploitation. Local and international NGO reports in the past year indicate that child prostitution within the country is widespread and increasing. There were also reports that some boys are trafficked internally for prostitution. Liberian refugee children and women in Ghana are also trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation. Media and NGO reports in the last year indicated that tourist locations in Ghana are increasingly becoming destinations for sex tourists. Transnationally, children are trafficked to and from other West African countries, primarily Cote d'Ivoire, Togo, Nigeria, and The Gambia, for the same purposes listed above. Women and girls are 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.

The Government of Ghana does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The Ghanian government recently established a Human Trafficking Board, which has begun drafting a national action plan to combat trafficking. Overall victim assistance efforts have declined over the past two years, however, particularly with respect to sex trafficking victims. 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 during the reporting year.

Recommendations for Ghana: Strengthen overall efforts to prosecute and convict traffickers; investigate and close down brothels selling children in prostitution and prosecute brothel operators; suspend government officials accused of complicity from their official duties until they can be prosecuted or cleared of allegations; develop a system for providing secure care for rescued sex trafficking victims; create increased overall shelter space for trafficking victims; train government social workers to identify trafficking victims among girls and women in prostitution; increase coordination between police and government social workers in conducting trafficking raids and rescues; and fulfill commitments to the international community to work with private cocoa companies to survey 50 percent of all cocoa producing regions to measure the incidence of worst forms of child labor and forced adult labor by July 2008.


The Government of Ghana demonstrated modest efforts to combat trafficking through law enforcement efforts during the last year. Ghana prohibits all forms of trafficking through its 2005 Human Trafficking Act, which prescribes a minimum penalty of five years' imprisonment for all forms of trafficking. This penalty is sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for rape. The government reported nine trafficking arrests, all of which are in various stages of prosecution. There were no reported convictions or punishments of trafficking offenders. Currently, Ghana's Criminal Investigations Department (CID) is collaborating with Ivorian authorities on a joint cross-border anti-trafficking operation. In November 2007, the CID conducted an operation against a trafficking ring, rescuing 17 female sex trafficking victims, one of whom was a minor. The victims were being trafficked through Ghana from Nigeria en route to Europe. The CID arrested the suspects; they were eventually released on bail. The suspects are awaiting trial. Corruption among law enforcement officials is an obstacle to effective anti-trafficking measures in Ghana. During the year an undercover journalist videotaped Ghanaian immigration officials accepting bribes to facilitate the trafficking of Nigerians victims to Europe. However, the official implicated is still employed by Ghana Immigration Services (GIS), but was transferred to a position outside Accra. The GIS is conducting an internal investigation into the case.

In January 2008, the CID conducted a raid on a cluster of brothels prostituting minors, which together are called the Soldier Bar. Police detained approximately 78 male clients and three bar employees. These criminal suspects were released after several hours, in part because the CID lacks facilities to accommodate such a large number of people. None of the detainees was charged. Prior to the raid, an undercover investigative journalist hid a camera in the bar, capturing footage of children being prostituted at the bar. The Parliamentary Caucus on Population warned the bar's caretaker after the raid that it was considering closing down or demolishing the establishment. The caretaker subsequently razed the brothel himself. The caretaker, who has not been investigated or charged for facilitating child sex trafficking, alleges that the bar's owner, who was out of the country during the raid, remains in Canada.


The Ghanaian government demonstrated limited efforts to protect trafficking victims. The government continued to provide personnel and utilities to its Madina shelter, which is funded primarily by IOM to provide care to child victims of trafficking in the fishing industry. The government also operates two homes in Accra for destitute children, some of whom are trafficking victims. The homes, however, suffer from lack of resources and are stretched beyond capacity. Ghana lacks shelters for sex trafficking victims and Ghanaian officials displayed very poor procedures for referring victims to service providers during the reporting period. The police employ no systematic procedures for identifying trafficking victims and referring them to government or NGO care facilities. When border officials find victims, they sometimes try to locate homes in border villages where the victims can stay until their families are found. In November 2007, Ghanaian officials rescued 17 Nigerian female sex trafficking victims but due to lack of better accommodation, placed them in a jail until they could be handed over to Nigerian officials.

At the end of October 2007, an investigative journalist reported that child sex trafficking was occurring at the Soldier Bar in Accra. In January 2008, the CID raided the brothel and rescued an estimated 160 women and children, approximately 60 of whom police determined were minors. The Department of Social Welfare and the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs assumed custody of the 60 minor girls and transported them to a shelter on the night of the raid. Due to lack of adequate facilities and security measures to care for or protect the victims, some of the women and minor girls rescued subsequently left the facility. Ghana does not provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they face hardship or retribution. Victims are not inappropriately incarcerated or fined for unlawful acts as a direct result of being trafficked.


The Government of Ghana continued to raise awareness about trafficking during the reporting period. The government launched several campaigns to educate the public about the 2005 law against trafficking. The Human Trafficking Board and the Human Trafficking Fund mandated by the 2005 law were established in July 2007. The Board, which is composed of government agencies, international organizations and NGOs, has begun drafting a national action plan against trafficking. The government continued to work with private cocoa companies to collect data to measure the incidence of the worst forms of child labor and forced adult labor in the cocoa sector. Ghana took modest measures to reduce demand for commercial sex acts by conducting raids on two brothels exploiting trafficking victims. The government did not take measures to ensure that its nationals who are deployed abroad as part of peacekeeping missions do not engage in or facilitate trafficking.

Ghana tier ranking by year

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