The European Union (EU), in collaboration with Expertise France, a French public international cooperation agency, has launched a €18- million (GH¢102.98 million) project to support the fight against human trafficking in six states in the Gulf of Guinea.
The countries are Ghana, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, and Guinea.
In Ghana, the project will be implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP) and will take into consideration measures to prevent human trafficking, offer protection, as well as prosecute culprits engaged in the act.
Countries involved in the fight will also be supported through the strengthening of their institutions and civil society organizations (CSOs) to enable them to build their capacities. State institutions will be particularly supported to effectively enforce laws, protect victims adequately and strengthen regional cooperation.
At the launch of the initiative in Accra yesterday, a project document to effect action was signed by the MGCSP on the country’s behalf.
The Deputy Minister of the MGCSP, Ms. Freda Prempeh, expressed her profound gratitude to the EU for the initiative, indicating that it was going to go a long way to reduce the incidence of trafficking, strengthen government institutions and increase public knowledge on the issue of human trafficking.
She said Ghana was a receipt, transit and destination country and was, as a result, characterized by patterns of cross-border and irregular migration, human trafficking, child exploitation, among other violations.
Ms. Prempeh said although such challenges were having a negative impact on the country, the government had not relented in its effort and responded to the issue in diverse ways.
She said a Human Trafficking Act had been enacted, with the objective to suppress illegality, punish perpetrators and develop strategies to rescue, rehabilitate and reintegrate victims.
In addition, she said, a Human Trafficking (HT) Secretariat had also been established to coordinate all human trafficking activities in Ghana.
She also said in collaboration with the law enforcement agencies, social workers and non-governmental organisations, Ghana had rescued over 778 victims and, in addition, given them comprehensive trauma informed care and re-integrated them into society.
In addition, she said, many High Court judges and a number of court clerks were being trained in case management, how to conduct child-friendly courts, as well as ways to improve the justice delivery system.
“All these efforts have led Ghana to maintain the Tier Two status in the 2019 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report published by the United States Department of Labour, but we are seeking to climb higher to Tier One, in spite of the challenges that the violations pose,” Mrs Prempeh said.
The Head of the UN Delegation in Ghana, Ms. Diana Acconcia, gave the background to the project and said after the surge in refugees in 2015, the EU and countries in Africa agreed to respond decisively and manage migration flow in all its aspects together.
She said at the 2015 Valletta Summit on Migration, which was attended by European and African leaders, they agreed on a plan aimed at addressing, in a holistic way, all aspects of migration.
Moreover, she said, the political will go hand in hand with important means, and through that an EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa was established to deliver on the Valletta Agenda aimed at tackling human trafficking, hence the reason for the project.
“Individuals and families should have the right to decide to migrate or not, and if they wish to do so, it should always be through regular channels. Lives should not be jeopardized because people are listening to the promises of dream sellers who fake, and are, in fact, the producers of the true nightmare,” she added.