Ghana’s First Lady, Lordina Mahama, and her Ivorian counterpart, Madame Dominique Quattara, have jointly signed a declaration affirming their commitment to fight against Human Trafficking and worst forms of child labour in all economic sectors in their respective countries.
The aim of maximizing profits against fluctuating cocoa prices in the world market, encourages plantation owners to use child labour, instead of paying minimum wage to adult labourers; and weak controls at the porous borders make the task easier.
According to the United Nations (UN) figure, about 2.4million people are trafficked at every point, a practice which generate 32 billion dollars annual profit for traffickers.
In recent years, both governments, have taken steps towards addressing child trafficking in the industry, including the ratification of international treaties and conventions, and capacity building of law enforcement officials and the judiciary.
Ghana passed a Human Trafficking Act in 2005 and Côte d’Ivoire is currently working on drafting its own national counter trafficking legislation.
Recalling the historical ties of friendship and brotherhood between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire and the fact that cross border child trafficking and worst forms of child labour are criminal and intolerable violations of rights of children jeopardising their full development and survival, the two countries decided to join forces through common joint action to fight more effectively against activities of traffickers on the territory of both countries.
At a ceremony to sign the declaration in Cote d’Ivoire, which attracted dignitaries from the Diplomatic community, as well as business executives from the business community, Lordina Mahama, bemoaned the wicked actions against victims of trafficking, including rape, forced marriage among others, describing it as the worst form of human violations and crimes against humanity.
Mrs. Mahama, asserted that the ECOWAS free movement instruments, coupled with unapproved border crossing along Cote d’Ivoire, is facilitating the operation of human traffickers.
This she stated, offers a challenge to the security services and enjoins the two countries to cooperate and tackle the illegal activities of traffickers.
According to Ghana’s First Lady, the time has come when the UN, Africa Union, ECOWAS and other international organizations, must ensure that perpetrators of human trafficking and child labour abuse, are held to account for their actions.
“There must be institutions and structures to hold individuals and organizations accountable for their actions and impose punishment, provide adequate and timely support services for victims survivors. If this is not done right peoples right would continue to be violated and crimes will persists,” she urges.
Mrs. Mahama, also called for the establishing of a secured combined cross border anti trafficking database between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire and a comprehensive action plan to confront the issue of human trafficking and worst form of child labour.
According to her, since 2002 when the issue of human trafficking in Ghana gained international attention, the government of Ghana, has taken measures to prevent these human acts.
She mentioned the adoption of Anti human trafficking Act (2005) and establishment of an Anti Human Trafficking Unit within the Police Force and the Immigration Service as some measures government took to combat this inhuman activities of human traffickers.
She expressed government commitment to continue to collaborate with key players at the West African Sub-regional level to address the cross border human trafficking and worst forms of child labour issues.
“The government of Ghana is also committed to fully implementing and integrating the relevant international regional and sub regional legal instruments which tackles human trafficking and worst form of child labour.
For her part the First Lady of Cote d’Ivoire, Madam Dominique Ouattara, commended the technical committee which drafted the declaration saying that it will go a long way to intensify the efforts of both countries to combat human Trafficking. She said even though Cote d’Ivoire has put in place measures to protect its people from this menace it is still ongoing. She was hopeful that the collaboration will help the two neighbouring countries to protect its citizens from trafficking activities.
Minister of Employment and Social Protection, Dosso Moussa, stated that Ghana was the third country Cote d’Ivoire is joining forces to fight human trafficking and worst form of child labour, after it had signed with Mali and Burkina Faso.
Considering the relationship between Ghana and Cote D’iviore, Mr Moussa, believed the joint effort by the two first ladies, would ensure the elimination of activities of human traffickers.
On her part, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur, added her voice to call for an end to human trafficking and worst forms of child labor. She stated that, every country is affected by trafficking and Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire are no exception.
Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire in the 2015 report on persons trafficking of the United State of America, were identified as tier two watch countries, meaning both countries, failed to meet trafficking victim protection act standard.
Nana Oye Lithur, noted that Ghana has strengthened its legal and policy framework.
“Institutional arrangement like the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ministry of Justice and Attorney General, Ministry of
Interior and Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations have constituted a working technical committee to address human trafficking,” Nana Oye stated.
A technical committee made up of Experts from Ghana’s Ministry of Employment and Labour relations and Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection and that of their Ivorian counterparts, are expected to come out with a blueprint of implementing a Plan of Action by the end of the year.