GHANA (Tier 2 Watch List)
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, for street hawking, forced begging by religious instructors, as porters, and possibly for forced kente weaving. Over 30,000 children are believed to be working as porters, or Kayaye, in Accra alone. Annually, the IOM reports numerous deaths of boys trafficked for hazardous forced labor in the Lake Volta fishing industry. Girls are trafficked within the country for domestic servitude and sexual exploitation. To a lesser extent, boys are also trafficked internally for sexual exploitation, primarily for sex tourism.
Transnationally, children are trafficked between Ghana and other West African countries, primarily Cote d'Ivoire, Togo, Nigeria, The Gambia, Burkina Faso, and Gabon for the same purposes listed above. Children are trafficked through Ghana for forced labor in agriculture in Cote d'Ivoire, including on cocoa farms. 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. During the year, Chinese women were trafficked to Ghana for sexual exploitation and a Ghanaian woman was also trafficked to Kuwait for forced labor. In 2008, the UN reported that a form of ritual servitude called Trokosi, in which young girls are subjected to forced labor and sexual servitude, continues in at least 23 fetish shrines.
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, despite limited resources. During the year, Ghanaian police intercepted a greater number of trafficking victims than the prior year. Despite these efforts, the government demonstrated weak efforts in prosecuting and punishing trafficking offenders or ensuring that victims receive adequate care; therefore, Ghana is placed on Tier 2 Watch List.
Recommendations for Ghana: Increase efforts to prosecute and convict trafficking offenders, including those who subject children to forced labor in the Lake Volta fishing industry and those who force Ghanaian children and foreign women into prostitution; establish additional victim shelters, particularly for sex trafficking victims; continue to apply Trafficking Victim Fund monies to victim care; and train officials to identify trafficking victims among women in prostitution and to respect victims' rights.
The Government of Ghana demonstrated minimal 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 arresting 16 suspected traffickers during the year, five of whom were prosecuted. In March 2009, the government obtained the conviction of a woman for trafficking a Togolese girl for forced labor, and she was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment. Eleven suspected traffickers remain under investigation. There were no reported criminal investigations or prosecutions of acts relating to the forced labor of children in the Lake Volta fishing industry. Although four Chinese nationals arrested in February 2009 were prosecuted for trafficking seven Chinese women to Accra for sexual exploitation, a verdict has not yet been delivered. A religious instructor arrested in July 2008 for subjecting 15 children to forced labor and one child to sexual servitude has not yet been prosecuted. Rather than being charged with the offense of trafficking, he was charged under the more lenient Children's Act and remains free on bail. During the year, the public prosecutor dropped a case against suspected traffickers arrested in November 2007 for forcing 17 women into prostitution, despite significant evidence against them, such as video recordings of them bribing immigration officials. The case was dropped when the victims, all of whom have returned to Nigeria, would not agree to testify. The government also failed to prosecute traffickers arrested in January 2008 for sexual exploitation of children, despite videotaped evidence of this exploitation at an Accra brothel, which remains open for business. In 2008 the Public Prosecutor's Office opened an anti-trafficking desk staffed with three prosecutors trained about trafficking.
The Ghanaian government demonstrated increased efforts to identify trafficking victims, but took inadequate steps to provide them with care during the year. The government contributed personnel to its Madina shelter, which is funded primarily by IOM to provide care to child victims of trafficking in the fishing industry. At the shelter, staff from the Department of Social Welfare (DSW) provided rehabilitation assistance to child victims rescued and referred by IOM. DSW staff provided rehabilitation assistance to victims in their communities of origin as well once the children were reunited with their families. The government continued to lack shelters for sex trafficking victims. Police rescued 221 child labor trafficking victims, and seven adult Chinese women forced into prostitution. The government was unable to provide comprehensive information about how many of these victims it provided with care. Fifteen child victims were provided with care in a DSW shelter in northern Ghana by a government-salaried social worker, while an NGO and private donor provided food, clothing, and education for the children. The government returned three of the child victims to the suspected trafficker, who remains out on bail. Two of the victims were repatriated to Togo by an NGO, while the remaining victims were returned to their families in Ghana. The government released ten girl victims of forced child labor identified in August 2008 into the custody of a man claiming to be from the children's village. He housed them at a bus station until NGOs requested that the government move them to an NGO shelter. In December 2008, the government allocated $75,000 to the Human Trafficking Fund it established in 2007 to provide victim care. In April 2009, the government provided a portion of these funds to a local NGO to help care for sex trafficking victims the NGO has sheltered at a hotel since their rescue in February 2009. Police provided limited security at the hotel.
While authorities increasingly employ procedures to identify forced labor trafficking victims among immigrants at border posts, they do not follow procedures to identify trafficking victims among females found in prostitution. The government encouraged victims to assist in investigation and prosecution of traffickers, though many victims were children afraid to provide testimony. During the year, police interviewed seven Chinese sex trafficking victims to assist with prosecution. During the trial, however, officials forced these women to testify in court against their will, causing them emotional trauma. The government provided limited and temporary legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they face hardship or retribution; generally victims may remain in Ghana only during the period of investigation and prosecution. With the Interior Minister's approval, however, a trafficking victim may remain permanently in Ghana if it is deemed to be in the victim's best interest.
The Government of Ghana demonstrated weak efforts to prevent trafficking over the last year. The government conducted anti-trafficking information and education campaigns during the reporting period. Counter-trafficking officials appeared regularly with anti-trafficking messages on radio talk shows and on television. The police held anti-trafficking public awareness meetings in areas of the country with a high incidence of trafficking and provided anti-trafficking educational materials to rural officials and local magistrates. The government also reached out to Nigerian officials through video conferences to request guidance in forming a national anti-trafficking agency. In June 2008, in collaboration with private cocoa companies, the government released a report on the incidence of child labor and adult forced labor in its cocoa sector. The Human Trafficking Board established in July 2007 met eight times in 2008. The government provided Ghanaian troops with anti-trafficking awareness training through a donor-funded program before being deployed abroad as part of international peacekeeping missions. Ghana took minimal measures to reduce demand for commercial sex acts by conducting a raid on a brothel exploiting trafficking victims, and prosecuting the suspected traffickers. The government failed to close down a brothel prostituting children, however. It took no discernable steps to address the demand for forced labor. Ghana has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.