Mr Robert P. Jackson, the Ambassador of the United States of America (USA) to Ghana, said he was satisfied with the progress being made so far by the government, to curb the incidence of Child Labour and Human Trafficking.
Mr Jackson stated at a press conference at the conclusion of the First Annual US-Ghana Child Protection Compact (CPC) Partnership High Level Consultation in Accra.
He said although a lot had been achieved in the area of training for the requisite authorities including prosecutors, the police and judiciary, and also in rescuing trafficked persons, as well as enslaved children, much more needed to be done.
He said Ghana had been on the global watch list for the past two years, with 2017 marking its third, because not much was being done to curb the high incidence of Child Labour, especially in the mining and cocoa growing communities, and also human trafficking, which was assuming an alarming proportion.
Mr Jackson said the five-year CPC Partnership was signed by the former US Ambassador to Ghana and the former Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection on June 23, 2015 with participation by the Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, and the Attorney General.
The CPC, he said sought to enhance the effectiveness of Ghana’s efforts to combat child trafficking by collaboratively building systems of justice and protection that held perpetrators of child sex and labour trafficking accountable under Ghanaian law.
It is also to ensure that child trafficking victims received comprehensive, gender sensitive services that fostered their recovery and community integration.
He said the Compact provided funding of $5 million for the training of the requisite authorities, and also the provision of other critical services such as shelter for rescued victims and their rehabilitation and reintegration into the community.
He therefore commended the various partners and stakeholders including Non-governmental Organizations that were working hard to ensure the elimination of child labour and human trafficking in the country.
Mr Jackson said the current progress in the prosecution of a number of perpetrators of these crimes, with scores of investigations still ongoing, and also the improvement in the services for rescued victims, gives hope that the country was on course.
He said the High Level Consultation provided an opportunity to take stock of progress made during the Partnership’s first two years, and to re-affirm the shared commitment of the partners to meeting the goals and objectives outlined in the document.
Madam Otiko Afisah Djaba, Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, said a lot was being done in areas including empowering families, especially women, with skills and seed capitals to be able to take care of their dependents.
She cited the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme, the Free Senior High School (Free-SHS) Policy, and the One District One Factory (1D1F), as some of the powerful social protection interventions being pursued by the government to curb extreme poverty among deprived communities and also ensure equity and quality in education.
Madam Otiko said the Ministries of Gender, and the Employment and Labour Relations, had also been at the forefront to rescue children who were engaged in hazardous works, especially in fishing communities in the Volta and Central Regions, and also on cocoa farms and artisanal mining in areas across the country.
She said the Gender Ministry had also provided potable water and other additional services for the Madina Shelter for trafficked victims, and was committed to partner with all stakeholders to ensure the total elimination of child labour and human trafficking in Ghana.
Mr Ignatious Baffour Awuah, the Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, admitted that the challenge was huge, but said several structures including tougher and punitive measures, had been put in place to eliminate the menace.
He said the negative impact, not mentioning the socio-economic costs of child labour, called for stronger partnerships from all angles, to win the fight.
Mr Joseph Kpemka, the Deputy Attorney General, said Government has strengthened the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of the Ghana Police Service for proper prosecution, and the closer collaboration with the judiciary with specialized selection of Attorneys solely for such types of cases at the special courts, adding that the current challenge would soon be over.
He pledged the commitment of the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General to collaborate with all stakeholders to eliminate child labour and trafficking of humans from Ghana.