The Police have rescued 31 children engaged in forced labour on the Volta Lake in the Volta Region. The police also arrested 11 persons in connection with the trafficking of the children.
The suspects are currently on police enquiry bail and the police said they were assisting with investigations.
The children, whose ages range between six and 17, are currently undergoing medical screening and rehabilitation at an undisclosed centre in Accra.
The Director General of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP) Bright Oduro, said the children were rescued in a joint operation on April 11, 2017.
The rescue team, he said, included the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), the Marine Police Unit, International Justice Mission and the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection.
According to DCOP Oduro, the operation was in line with the police’s collaborative effort with partners to end child trafficking and forced labour on the Volta Lake and other parts of the country.
Children forced into fishing and other forms of child labour, he said, risked losing their lives and were also denied education which was an infringement on their rights.
Mr Oduro cautioned parents and guardians to be wary of people and relatives who approached them to have custody of their children under the guise of taking them to school in the cities.
“The police wish to remind the general public that child trafficking is an offence under the Human Trafficking Act, 2005 (Act 694) and parents are advised not to allow their children to be trafficked or sold into forced labour,” he said.
He also called on community leaders to report any incident of trafficking or forced labour for swift action.
DCOP Oduro said the police would continue to work with the government and other agencies to reduce the menace through sensitisation, rescue operations, protection of victims and prosecution of offenders.
Human trafficking is an international problem affecting millions of people and many countries around the world.
In Ghana, the internal trafficking of children is one of the biggest challenges.
Many Ghanaian children are trafficked from their villages to work in the fishing industry.
These children, who are sometimes used to settle debts owned by their parents or other relations, live in poor conditions and work for long hours on a daily basis.
Human trafficking is the illegal trade in human beings for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labour and a modern-day form of slavery.
The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion is mostly condemned.
Some of the victims are abducted or deceived or taken into slavery through abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation.
The sixth Ghana Living Standard Survey (GLSS 6) estimates that there are more than 8.6 million children between the ages of five and 17 in Ghana.
Sadly, over 1.8 million (21.8 per cent) of them are engaged in child labour and over 1.2 million (14.2 per cent) are engaged in hazardous child labour.