Kumasi — The Government of United State of America (USA) has charged Ghana to end modern day slavery immediately or face the consequences of her lackadaisical attitude towards the fight against the crime.
This may include cutting off military assistance to Ghana and also reduce aid support amounting over $140 million per year.
Per its ratings, Ghana is classified as a Tier 2 Watch List country, meaning that the government does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons and also failed to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat forced labour, child labour and sex trafficking of children and adults in the past year.
The White House, mincing no words warned President Mahama that: "Without significant progress in combating trafficking in persons, Ghana risks losing U.S. support for programs in agriculture, education, security, governance, health and economic growth".
The U.S. government is funding several programs in Ghana to address trafficking and child labor. In June 2015, President Mahama and then-Ambassador Gene Cretz signed the Child Protection Compact (CPC) Partnership.
The CPC Partnership is a jointly developed, multi-year plan aimed at bolstering current efforts of the government of Ghana and Ghanaian civil society to address child sex trafficking and forced child labour within Ghana. The Partnership awarded $5 million in U.S. foreign assistance to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Free the Slaves, NGO to combat forced child labour and child sex trafficking in the Volta, Central, and Greater Accra regions over the next four years.
In a statement released from the office of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry amidst the 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report by the US government, which was published at the Embassy of United State in Accra, it said: "The 2016 TIP Report includes narratives for 188 countries and territories, including the United States. The goal of the report is to stimulate action and create partnerships around the world in the fight against modern slavery".
According to the American government: " for the second year in a row, Ghana is classified as a Tier 2 Watch List country, meaning that the government does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons and failed to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in the past year".
The statement was emphatic that any country ranked on the Tier 2 Watch List for two consecutive years must be downgraded to Tier 3 in the third year unless it shows sufficient progress to warrant a Tier 2 or Tier 1 ranking. A Tier 3 ranking indicates a government does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons and is not making significant efforts to do so.
It said: "Ghana could be subject to an automatic downgrade to Tier 3 in the 2017 TIP Report. If Ghana is downgraded to Tier 3 in 2017, it will become subject to restrictions on U.S. assistance, including development aid and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact.
The United States currently provides more than $140 million per year in development aid to Ghana ". Commenting on the report, U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, Robert Jackson said: "The Trafficking in Persons report recognizes the trafficking problems we all know exist in Ghana--forced labour, child labour and sex trafficking of children and adults.
It is important to note, however, that it is not the quantity of trafficking in any given country that is being evaluated. Trafficking exists everywhere, including in the United States. Rather, the ranking assesses the efforts made by government to prevent trafficking, prosecute criminals and protect victims" the statement lamented.
"No one wants Ghana to slip to Tier 3 next year," said Ambassador Jackson. "Not only is such a move catastrophic for the victims of trafficking, but it would also be disastrous to our development efforts in all areas: agriculture, education, security, governance, health and economic growth.
He said the government of Ghana must increase its anti-trafficking efforts, for the immediate benefit of Ghanaian trafficking victims and the long-term benefit of all Ghanaians.
He continued: "Unfortunately, despite some investigations and awareness campaigns, the government of Ghana did not demonstrably commit to anti-trafficking efforts in 2015. As such, Ghana is placed on the Tier 2 Watch List for the second consecutive year. Ghana must increase the resources it invests in anti-trafficking enforcement and protection activities and track and report the results of its efforts.
This includes investigating trafficking cases; prosecuting and convicting traffickers; and providing assistance, protection and care for adult and child victims of trafficking.
"The TIP Report recognizes that the Ghanaian government investigated and prosecuted some trafficking and trafficking-related crimes, including allegedly fraudulent labour recruiters and suspected child traffickers; conducted public awareness activities aimed at informing the public about the risks of human trafficking; and provided funding to support two meetings of the Human Trafficking Management Board.
"However, key factors in Ghana's Tier 2 Watch List ranking include no demonstrable increase in prosecution efforts or assistance to victims; zero trafficking convictions in 2015; a decrease in the number of victims identified in the past year; inadequate funding and training for law enforcement and prosecutors; inadequate funding for victim protection and support services; insufficiently stringent penalties for trafficking; and reports of increased of corruption and bribery in the judicial system, which hindered anti-trafficking measures" the American Ambassador to Ghana told the Flagstaff House.
On the way forward the report provided specific recommendations to further the government of Ghana's anti-trafficking efforts over the next year. These recommendations include: Increase funding, support for police and immigration service efforts to investigate, and police and attorney general prosecutors to prosecute trafficking offenses--especially internal labour and Sex trafficking of children and convict and punish trafficking offenders.
It called on the Mahama-led administration to develop and implement systematic methods of collecting and reporting data on investigations, prosecutions, victims identified, and assistance provided.
"Develop and implement systematic procedures for law enforcement, social welfare personnel, and labour inspectors to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations -such as women in prostitution, migrant workers, and children working in agriculture, mining, fishing, and pottering and refer them to protective services.
"Provide training to prosecutors and judges on the appropriate implementation of the Anti-Trafficking Act" he noted.
The American government told Ghanaian authorities to provide support for government-operated shelters for children and adults and training of staff in victim care and Increase efforts to regulate the activity of licensed and unlicensed recruitment agencies and investigate and prosecute agencies suspected of participating in human trafficking of Ghanaian migrant workers.
It stressed: "Amend the anti-trafficking act legislative instrument so that it provides sufficiently stringent penalties for all trafficking offenders". The USA government highlighted that her Department of Labour's Mobilizing Community Action and Promoting Opportunities for Youth in Ghana's Cocoa-Growing Communities (MOCA) project is providing $4.5 million to empower 40 cocoa-growing communities in the Ashanti and Western Regions to design and implement Community Action Plans (CAPs) to address child labour at the community level.
Also USDOL projects include $1.5 million to assess the prevalence of child labour in the cocoa sectors of Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana; $3 million to assess the effectiveness of interventions in these sectors;
and $5 million to develop and implement strategies to reduce child labour and improve working conditions in artisanal and small-scale gold mining.
USAID Ghana's Sustainable Fisheries Management Project, a $24 million project aimed at rebuilding marine fisheries stocks and catches through adoption of responsible fishing practices, also includes deliberate steps towards reducing child labour and trafficking in the Central Region of Ghana.