Protect child rights – FoN

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Mr Kwesi Johnson, Child Labour and Trafficking (CLaT) Co-coordinator at Friends of the Nation (FoN), has stressed the need for institutions and agencies working for the elimination of CLaT in the country to be strengthened.

He said weaknesses in such institutions must be addressed while coordination among them should also be promoted in order to establish efficient enforcement and support structures to properly deal with CLaT issues.

This, he said, was necessary to ensure that Ghana was not downgraded to Tier Three of the United States (US) Department of Trafficking in Persons (TIP) list which could have dire implications for the country.

Ghana has for two consecutive years been listed on the TIP Tier Two watch list in the period spanning from January 2014 to December 2015.

Mr Johnson was speaking at a news conference as part of activities to mark this year’s World Day Against Child Labour in Cape Coast to highlight the issue of CLaT and its impact on children, family and the society to the media.

It was on theme “Eliminating Child Labour and Trafficking in our vulnerable communities: Our duty.”

The Day was instituted by the International Labour Organisation on June 12, 2002 as part of the global advocacy to highlight the plight of children in hard labour.

Mr Johnson noted that though poverty was at the core of CLaT, institutional weaknesses and local structures in the application of laws relating to the phenomenon remained a major challenge in Ghana.

“The gaps in law enforcement should be plugged to contribute to reducing the expenses made in rescuing and rehabilitating victims, he added.

He said the country would lose multi-million dollars in aid if authorities failed to demonstrate adequate evidence in combating child labour and child trafficking and called on all stakeholders to play their respective roles to ensure that the menace was curtailed.

Mr Johnson observed that poverty was the driving force behind CLaT and that declining fish harvest had also deepened poverty in coastal communities especially where there were no other viable means of livelihood.

However, he insisted that this was not an excuse for them to continue to perpetrate the illegality, adding that “children’s rights are human rights and should be treated as such”.

Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) George Appiah-Sakyi, Central Regional Co-coordinator of the Domestic Violence and Victims’ Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service, said CLaT was an unacceptable activity that amounted to human degradation.

He said though human-centred development initiatives were paramount, sensitisation and advocacy had proved to be a more effective way through which stakeholders could deal with the menace and called for intensified sensitisation and advocacy programmes.

DSP Apiah Sakyi also called for collaborative efforts from all stakeholders to effectively deal with the menace.

Chief Superintendent Ahmed Mussah, Deputy Regional Commander of the Ghana Immigration Service, said the multi-faceted nature of CLaT made it mandatory for individuals, organisations and relevant stakeholders to remain committed to combating it.

He called on communities where such acts were prevalent to volunteer information on suspected trafficking issues to appropriate institutions.

GNA