Police rescue 13 children aged 5-16
The Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of the Eastern Regional Police Command and the Ghana Navy have, in a joint operation, rescued 13 children allegedly trafficked to Edrekpota, an island community along the Volta Lake at Afram Plains in the Eastern Region.
Aged between five and 16 years, the children were part of 24 children suspected to have been trafficked from Ada, Ningo and other distant locations to the island community who have been engaged in fishing activities by their boat masters on the Volta Lake.
The rescue occurred in the wee hours of last Monday after the police, through intelligence, intercepted a bus conveying 13 of the suspected trafficked children to their respective hometowns by two persons at Atimpoku in the Eastern Region.
Dubbed, Operation Ablorde, the exercise was part of efforts by the police and the Navy to stop the menace of trafficking children.
Earlier on Saturday, the police and the Navy team had made an unsuccessful effort to rescue the children.
Ghana News Headlines
For latest news in Ghana, visit Graphic Online news headlines page Ghana news page
The two suspects, a man and a woman, were in police custody while the police continue with their investigations on the matter.
After the rescue mission, the children were handed over to officials of the Department of Social Welfare for their rehabilitation processes to commence.
The rescue team arrived at the community around noon last Saturday only to realise that all the children in there had gone into hiding, owing to a tip-off that was given to the community members by an unknown person ahead of the exercise.
Nonetheless, the team arrested nine out of 11 boat masters suspected to be directly involved in the trafficking of the children for further investigation.
The attempt to transport the children back to their families was believed to be a plot hatched by some members in the community to avert further interrogation by the police.
In an interview after the exercise, the Deputy Public Relations Officer of the Eastern Regional Police Command, Sergeant Francis Gomado, stated that some of the suspects confessed during interrogation that they had some of the children in their care.
He said the suspects had agreed to surrender the children willingly and had even arranged with their relatives in the community to take them to the police station.
Sergeant Gomado said the police had amicably arranged to receive the children last Monday noon only to be given a tip-off Sunday night that some persons had plotted to whisk 16 of the children back to their families.
“We dispersed our men in plain clothes to the possible routes they will use and our men succeeded in intercepting the bus that was transporting the children.
“From our records, there are about eight more to be rescued. No amount of intimidation from anyone will stop us from doing what is right to ensure the safety of the children,” he stated.
Trafficking children into forced labour contravenes the provisions of the Human Trafficking Act, 2005 (Act 694) and the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol) to which Ghana is a signatory.
For decades, communities along the Volta Lake have been identified as areas where cases of child trafficking are prevalent.
The Eastern Regional Police Command, had, as part of efforts to combat the menace, launched the Operation Ablorde (which means Freedom in Ewe) to crack down on the perpetrators and rescue the victims.