Govt urged to be sensitive to issues of modern slavery like 'galamsey'

Engage Now Africa (ENA), an international NGO committed to ending poverty in Africa has lauded government’s unwavering commitment to fight illegal-mining popularly known as ‘galamsey’ in the country, urging it to use the same zeal to combat modern slavery. Director of End Modern Slavery of ENA, David Kofi Awusi made the call whilst addressing participants at a one-day “education & sensitization durbar” on modern slavery held at the Teachers Hall on Thursday, May 18 2017 in Takoradi, Western Region. The durbar, an initiative of End of Slavery Department of ENA was on the theme: “Ghana @ 60: Any future for our children and youth?”.  It brought together over 250 participants made up of stakeholders, civil society organizations and students across 8 districts within the southern belt of Western Region to dialogue in order to find ways of combating the menace of modern slavery. “We congratulate government for such a bold step and dedicated action in its recent unbending commitment on combating “galamsey”. We however, call on him to be all-inclusive in its effort by prioritizing the following forms of modern slavery for elimination including forced labour in fishing and farming, child prostitution and sex tourism, head porterage or “Kayaye”, forced or child marriage and child domestic work” David Awusi noted.

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A recent release from ENA to the media revealed out of 2.4 million children in Ghana between the ages 5 and 17, about 1.86 million of them are victims of child labour. This in addition to the 49,000 children working on Lake Volta of which 21,000 of them are engaged in hazardous child labour today, it said. Modern slavery also known as child trafficking, refers to the recruitment, transportation, harboring or transfer of a person from one place or  the other against the will of the victim for the purpose of forced labour, sexual exploitation or organ trade. In Ghana, though both the Children’s Act, 1998 (Acts 560) and Human Trafficking Act, 2005(Act 694) condemn child labour and human trafficking making it illegal, yet child labour and modern slavery is still rife in all the regions of the country. But brainstorming on what must be done to address the canker, David Awusi maintains government must demonstrate strong political will and be committed in the fight against modern slavery just as he has demonstrated recently towards galamsey. He also called for arrest, prosecution and stiff punishment for perpetrators.  “We need to send a strong message out there that you cannot traffic other people’s children, you cannot abuse your own children and go scot free” he stressed. According to David, the strength of government’s efforts only lies in enactment of laws and development of policies and plans while its weakness lies in making financial allocations to implement those plans and policies coupled with weak enforcement of the laws due to corruption and others. Various concerns raised during the durbar indicated that people are being trafficked out of Ghana due to poverty, ignorance, large, large family size, high profitability(greed),low risk of arrest and weak political will on part of government  to combat the menace. For her part, the Deputy Western Regional Minister, Gifty Eugenia Kusi bemoaned the rate at which the  future of Ghanaian children and the youth are gradually being destroyed.
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But there is hope said the Minister,  “because as a government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), we are going to work together  with all stakeholders and Civil Society Organizations to create the enabling environment that can nurture our children and youths for a better tomorrow through policies that we already  have”. Gifty Eugenia Kusi commended ENA for the initiative and pledges support for any program geared towards child protection and youth employment in the Region, adding “we’re going to work closely with the Ghana Police Service, Ghana Immigration Service to arrest and prosecute perpetrators of child labour and modern slavery so as to serve as deterrent to others. The event also served as a platform to launch an 81-paged book titled “Saving Our Pearls of the Future”: a resource manual on how to end modern slavery, authored by David Kofi Awusi. By Joseph Kobla Wemakor ||Ghana]]>


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