Last Updated: Tuesday, 02 September 2014, 13:52 GMT

2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Ghana

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 27 June 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Ghana, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e12ee7a3c.html [accessed 2 September 2014]
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 country of origin, transit, and destination for women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. The trafficking of Ghanaian citizens, particularly children, within the country is more common than the transnational trafficking of foreign migrants. This internal trafficking is characterized largely by the movement of children from rural to urban areas or from one rural area to another, such as from farming to fishing communities. Ghanaian boys and girls are subjected to conditions of forced labor within the country in fishing, domestic service, street hawking, begging, portering, and agriculture. Ghanaian girls, and to a lesser extent boys, are subjected to prostitution within Ghana. There were reports that Labadi Beach in Accra, as well as Cape Coast and Elmina, may be destinations for international child sex tourists. Ghanaian women and children are recruited and transported to Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Russia, Syria, Lebanon, South Africa, the United States, and countries in Western Europe for forced labor and sex trafficking. Women and girls, voluntarily migrating from China, Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Benin, and possibly Romania are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation after arriving in Ghana. Citizens from other West African countries and from Bangladesh are subjected to forced labor in Ghana in agriculture or domestic service.

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 government demonstrated an increased ability to collect data on trafficking victims identified and reported knowledge of 482 such victims in 2010. However, despite this substantial figure, it initiated only six prosecutions and obtained four convictions of trafficking offenders during the year – a decline in prosecution efforts from the previous year – and it failed to provide information on the number of trafficking victims that it referred to protective services. Despite the government's recognition that the majority of trafficking occurred within the country, authorities only prosecuted two such cases of internal trafficking during the reporting period.

Recommendations for Ghana: Increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking cases, including cases of internal trafficking, and impose adequate sentences of imprisonment on convicted offenders; train law enforcement personnel to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as females in prostitution and children working in agriculture, or from emergency calls made to the Ghana Police Service, and refer them to protective services; increase government funding for protective services to victims and make information about funding allocations available to the public; improve data collection and reporting on victims identified and assisted, and harmonize law enforcement data across the three entities – the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO), the Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTU) of the Ghana Police Service (GPS), and the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) – responsible for investigating trafficking cases; update and implement the National Plan of Action against Trafficking, including a clear division of responsibilities and allocation of resources between the EOCO and the AHTU; and sign and ratify the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.

Prosecution

The Government of Ghana demonstrated some progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts by increasing its structural capacity to combat trafficking, though it demonstrated decreased efforts to prosecute and convict trafficking offenders during the reporting period. Its six prosecutions and four convictions marked a significant decrease from the 15 prosecutions and six convictions reported during the previous year. The government prosecuted only two cases of trafficking that occurred within the country and one of the four convicted traffickers received only a $350 fine. Ghana's 2005 Human Trafficking Act (HTA) – amended in 2009 to align the definition of trafficking with the 2000 UN TIP Protocol – prohibits all forms of trafficking and prescribes penalties of five to 20 years' imprisonment for all trafficking crimes. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. In 2010, with the support of an international organization, the GPS added four new regional AHTUs in its Criminal Investigation Division and the GIS opened two new anti-trafficking desks on the borders with Togo and Cote d'Ivoire. In September 2010, the parliament passed an act renaming the Serious Fraud Office the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO), and expanding its mandate to include the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking cases; it did not clearly define a division of responsibilities, however, between this body and the AHTU. The AHTU reported insufficient funding and a lack of transportation or fuel constrained its ability to conduct investigations during the year. The government prosecuted six cases and obtained convictions of four trafficking offenders in 2010. Three different agencies identified cases during the year. The GIS identified two cases during the year; one of these, in which five Chinese women are suspected to be victims of sex trafficking, is currently being prosecuted, and the other did not lead to an arrest.

The AHTU reported knowledge of 46 suspected trafficking cases between January 2010 and March 2011, but did not specify how many occurred during the reporting year; it completed 23 investigations, conducted six prosecutions, and obtained four convictions, with sentences ranging from a $350 fine to 10 years' imprisonment. Prosecutors chose not to pursue two cases, and 17 others were dismissed due to lack of evidence or lack of victim assistance. One case resulting in a conviction involved a Nigerian woman forced into prostitution in Ghana, and one involved Ghanaian boys transported to Nigeria for forced labor. In January, a Nigerian man was convicted for transporting a 15-year-old girl from the Volta Region to the Central Region for the purpose of prostitution. He was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment and an approximately $330 fine. In March 2011, a court in the Brong Ahafo Region convicted a woman and sentenced her to seven years' imprisonment for transporting a 14-year old girl to Accra, the capital, and subjecting her to prostitution. The prosecution of one case, involving three suspects in the alleged transportation of 10 Ghanaian girls to Nigeria for forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation, remained pending at the close of the reporting period. The EOCO reported it was conducting investigations of two trafficking cases involving 40 victims; 17 additional cases remain under investigation with the AHTU. The government reported it provided anti-trafficking training to 40 new GIS officers as part of their compulsory curriculum during the year, and that it provided anti-trafficking sensitization training to 60 officers in November 2010. There were no reports of government officials investigated, prosecuted, or convicted for trafficking or trafficking-related criminal activities during the reporting period.

Protection

The government sustained modest victim protection efforts during the year. Government funding to protect trafficking victims was inadequate; law enforcement officials reported using their personal funds to assist victims, as no funds for victim protection were included in their agencies' budgets. The government failed to provide information on the amount of funding it allocated to other agencies to protect victims, but an international organization reported that the Ministries of Women and Children's Affairs (MOWAC) and Employment and Social Welfare were among the ministries that received decreased budget allocations in 2010 compared with 2009 and in practice received less funding than the allocation specified. The government did not employ formal procedures to identify victims among vulnerable groups, such as women in prostitution or children at work sites; border officials questioned large groups suspected to include trafficking victims, and reportedly identified five victims during the year. The AHTU, the EOCO, and the GIS identified 482 victims, and referred an unknown number of these victims on an ad hoc basis to government and NGO-run facilities to receive protective care. The government did not operate specialized care facilities for trafficking victims; it provided shelter and basic medical services to an unknown number of victims in orphanages and centers for abused children operated by the Department of Social Welfare, and NGOs operated shelters that could provide victims with long-term care and psychological services. The government paid the salaries of approximately 13 employees in two shelters run by international organizations in the Greater Accra Region, one of which opened during the reporting year. Although adult victims could theoretically be admitted to these facilities, none were admitted during the year, though the government reportedly placed some adult victims in hotels and hostels for an unknown length of time. MOWAC, with funding from an international organization, is reportedly working on the development of a formal system for referring trafficking victims to protective facilities to receive care, but did not appear to make significant progress on this initiative during the year. The government did not allocate funding to the Human Trafficking Fund, which was established to provide economic resources to assist victims in their rehabilitation. The government encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers, and provided them with protective escorts and legal counsel, but cases were often dismissed when victims did not participate in prosecutions. According to the AHTU, victims' and witnesses' statements were taken behind closed doors and trafficking cases were held in closed court to ensure victims' safety and conceal their identities. Foreign victims were able to remain in the country legally during the investigation and prosecution of their cases and, with the interior minister's approval, a trafficking victim may remain permanently in Ghana if it is deemed to be in the victim's best interest; no victims were granted such residency during the year. The government may have treated trafficking victims as criminals when, in February 2011, police conducted a raid on a brothel and arrested 14 women suspected to be in prostitution, without taking efforts to identify trafficking victims among them.

Prevention

During the year, the government sustained its efforts to prevent trafficking. With support from an international organization, it conducted awareness campaigns – for example, a radio program warning of the dangers of child trafficking – in six regions throughout the country, including the Upper East, Eastern, and Greater Accra regions, which are source communities for children forced to work in the fishing industry surrounding Lake Volta. The inter-agency Human Trafficking Management Board met quarterly, and in August 2010, MOWAC, with support from an international organization, held a two-day information-sharing forum for NGO and government representatives in an effort to improve coordination among anti-trafficking stakeholders. In October 2010, the cabinet endorsed and adopted a National Plan of Action to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor, which provides the framework for the Ghana Child Labor Monitoring System, a tool launched by the Ministry of Employment and Social Work during the year, to identify and monitor children in the worst forms of child labor, including trafficked children.

The National Plan of Action against Trafficking, drafted in 2006, remained unimplemented. The government raided a brothel in February 2011 and made 77 arrests of suspected clients, including the owner and individuals soliciting prostitution. It is unknown whether the brothel remained closed or if the proprietor was prosecuted for any criminal acts during the year. The Government took no discernible measures to decrease the demand for forced labor. In addition, officials have not investigated reports of child sex tourism. The government took steps to establish the identity of local populations through completion of a 2010 population census. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training to Ghanaian troops prior to their deployment abroad on peacekeeping missions, though such training was provided by foreign donors. Ghana is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.

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