Gender Minister-designate, Sarah Adwoa Safo has said that one of the immediate things she will do if approved is to start working to deal with the child trafficking menace in the country.
She noted that there are existing laws and regulations at the ministry that will enable her to embark on this agenda to reduce the menace drastically.
She said these during her vetting by the Appointments Committee of Parliament on Wednesday, February 17.
The 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report on Ghana published by the US Department of State has noted that the Government of Ghana does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.
It said the government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore Ghana remained on Tier 2. These efforts included identifying more potential victims of trafficking and providing comprehensive services for victims in the newly established government shelter for adult female trafficking victims.
“The government also investigated and prosecuted more trafficking cases and sentenced more convicted traffickers to significant prison terms; continued to implement standard operating procedures (SOPs) for identification and referral of trafficking victims in some regions; and continued cooperative efforts among police, social welfare, and civil society actors to identify and remove children from trafficking situations.
“The government also increased its support for implementing Ghana’s anti-trafficking national action plan, training for officials and traditional leaders, and conducting public awareness activities. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas.
“The lack of adequate resources for anti-trafficking law enforcement and social welfare personnel continued to hinder investigations, prosecutions, and protection efforts. The government did not expend funds allocated to the Human Trafficking Fund (HTF) to address the lack of sufficient protection services for adult male and child trafficking victims, and it did not take steps to improve protections for Ghanaian migrant workers before departing and while abroad, particularly in the Gulf.”
“The government did not adequately address corruption, including complicit officials who facilitated trafficking, and it did not amend the anti-trafficking act regulations to remove the option of a fine in lieu of imprisonment in cases where the trafficker is a parent or guardian of the child victim,” the report said.
Asked what her plans will be in resolving the issues if approved, the former Procurement Minister, Adwoa Safo explained that she will ask officials of the ministry working on child trafficking issues to brief her on the state of affairs as far as the fight against the problem is concerned.
“Human trafficking, I know that this House passed the Human Trafficking Act of 2005 that the Ministry is working with. We also have the Human Trafficking Prohibition Protection and Reintegration of Trafficked Persons Regulations of 2015. These are all legal frameworks within which to deal with the menace,” the Dome Kwabenya lawmaker said.
She added: “When I get to the ministry I will engage the department of human trafficking which I know exist for proper briefings on matters relating to that.
“And then I can proceed on the right strategies and the right policies to continue what has already been started by the Ministry.
On the issue of withes camp in Ghana, she said she will work to rebrand all the witches camp in the country.
She explained that most of the women in these camps are unwilling to return home because they have formed families there.
To that end, she said, she will work to ensure that the government provides them with the necessary basic amenities to make life comfortable for them within the camps.
“If I am given the nod, what I will first do is to engage and visit some of the camps and engage these alleged witches. I will further engage the traditional authorities and opinion leaders in these areas to get a very clear picture of what indeed ought to be done. That is not to say that the Ministry hasn’t done anything. I chanced upon some documents which indicated that in Gambaga witches camp for instance, there are 600 inmates. When they were engaged only one was prepared to come back home.
“So I believe that a rebranding of these camps because as far as the women of these camps are concerned they have found families in these camps and so I will engage them. Attempts to withdraw these women have proven difficult in the past that is why I believe that another and a novel approach to dealing with the matter will be more prudent.”
“So, if they see it as homes and the ministry supports them with the necessary social amenities that is expected of a state – they are given food, they are put on LEAP, and they are given clothing – I believe that negative branding as a witches camp will be taken away and I intend to go through with them some education on the need for them to also know that the abusive methods on them are not legal and they can speak out and report to the Police,” Gender Minister-designate, Sarah Adwoa Safo on what she will do to deal with the withes camp menace in the country if approved.