A new Anglican-run community shelter to provide a home for trafficked children is on course to open next year in Accra, Ghana. The Bishop of Accra, Dr Daniel Mensah Torto, told journalists this week that the Hope Community would resettle and educate trafficked children who had been rescued. The refuge, funded by the Diocese of Accra in partnership with the US embassy to Ghana, is part of a five-year anti-trafficking programme.
This week, some 35 priests took part in a training workshop to equip them to identify and speak out against child trafficking in their local areas. The workshop addressed a range of issues including human rights laws, Christian justice and the realities of child trafficking.
Ghana has a recognised problem with child trafficking. The scale of the problem is such that it would be classed as a “tier three” country with restrictions on the amount of support the country could receive from the US. But it has been given a waiver to keep it as a tier two country because of the efforts the country has taken to tackle the problem. Tier two countries are effectively on a watch-list of close monitoring.
“Because the Government of Ghana devoted sufficient resources to a written plan of action that, if implemented, would constitute significant efforts to meet the minimum standards, Ghana was granted a waiver from an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3,” the US ambassador to Ghana, Robert Jackson, said.
“The Government of Ghana has taken initial steps this year to protect Ghanaian men, women and children from being enslaved. We urge the government to remain vigilant and to fully implement the new national plan of action against trafficking. When funded as promised, Ghana will be better able to prevent and prosecute trafficking and provide support services for victims of trafficking in Ghana.
“The theme of this year’s [US Trafficking in Persons] report says it all: traffickers must be held criminally accountable. Unless Ghanaians work with law enforcement and the courts to bring traffickers to justice, they will continue to commit these horrific crimes. This isn’t about what the United States wants Ghana to do. It’s about Ghanaian men, women and children who are suffering because traffickers are allowed to violate Ghana’s laws and morality.”
Bishop Daniel explained that the Diocese of Accra’s partnership with the US embassy would help to combat child trafficking through increased awareness, the use of symbols and slogans, community mobilisation and outreach educational programmes.
The workshop, he said, would also encourage the authorities to address the causes of child trafficking in the country and intensify education among some parents who led their children into slavery.
Ambassador Jackson told the priests to use their influence to educate the public and challenge the normalisation of the recruitment of children for forced labour.