The Ghana Immigration Service has debunked alleged sexual exploitation of victims of human trafficking who were in the GIS custody.
   Ghana Immigration Service said the allegation was false, misleading and maligning.
    A statement issued and signed by Michael Amoako-Atta, Acting Head of Public Affairs Unit, GIS indicated that they had stepped up surveillance at the country’s land borders after government placed temporal ban on the use of the Kotoka International Airport for travels to the Gulf Regions for domestic servants.
   It said vigilance at the borders had paid off with numerous arrests and interceptions of human traffickers and their victims adding that 90 girls were rescued from being trafficked to the Gulf Region within three weeks.
   It explained that the girls were given initial counselling by officers of the Anti-Human Smuggling and Trafficking in Prisons Unit (ASHTIP) of the GIS who were trained professionals in the handling of trafficked victims and their statements taken in an effort to prosecute the alleged traffickers. For the safety of the victims and other security considerations, the victims were sent to a Safe House where a Social Worker and other Professional handlers took adequate care of them.
   According to the statement, the victims were given further counselling and trained in soap making, parazone production, batik and beads making which gave them alternative livelihood to eventually reintegrate into their communities. It said no Officer of the GIS lived in the Safe House with the victims and they were fed three times daily. It said a visit to the Safe House by the GIS was always supervised by a Senior Female Officer.
  “On Tuesday, June 28, 2017, some of the victims agitated for their release and in the process about eight of the ladies escaped from the Safe House, adding that the rest of the victims were immediately brought to the Headquarters of the GIS and were processed and released to their families on Wednesday, June 28, 2017,” it said.
   It said the Victims were provided with money for transport to their various destinations adding that investigation by GIS through interviews with the victims revealed that some of them were in hurry to go home and therefore used various means to secure their release hence the unfortunate accusations of sexual assaults labelled against Officers.
  “Indeed, no Officer of the GIS had sex with the victims and/or made any sexual demands on the victims.”
   It said the publication of the false story and subsequent exposure of location of the victims would seriously hamper ongoing investigations.  It added that the fight against human trafficking does not end with mere arrests or interceptions but securing a conviction in the court of law would be a strong deterrent to the traffickers and called for media support in the fight against human trafficking.
   “The GIS wish to admonish the media to always cross-check with Service before reporting on such issues”. It said their sacrifices in the face of dire challenges along the borders must be commended and appreciated to make their work one of a national pride.
  “The GIS will continually seek the support and cooperation of the media to fight this menace.” The statement said High Commission of the GIS was resolved to ensure security at the country’s borders for a peaceful development of the country and would therefore not relent in its fight against human smuggling and trafficking in persons or any illegal cross border activity.
GNA