Prosecution of human trafficking in Ghana (TIP 2023)

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The government increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The 2005 Human Trafficking Act, amended in 2009, criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking. The Human Trafficking Act prescribed penalties of a minimum of five years’ imprisonment, which were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. However, the 2015 regulations for this Act, which are non-discretionary and have the force of law, provided specific guidance on sentencing depending on the circumstances; in general, the term is not less than five years’ imprisonment and not more than 25 years’ imprisonment, but if a parent, guardian, or other person with parental responsibilities facilitates or engages in trafficking, they are liable to a fine, five to 10 years’ imprisonment, or both. By allowing for a fine in lieu of imprisonment, these penalties were not commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as rape.

Authorities initiated investigations of 133 trafficking cases and continued three investigations in 2022, compared with initiating investigations of 108 cases and continuing one investigation in 2021. The government initiated prosecutions of 28 alleged traffickers (seven for sex trafficking, 14 for labor trafficking, and seven for unspecified forms of trafficking) and continued prosecution of seven alleged traffickers (one for sex trafficking and six for labor trafficking). Courts convicted 10 traffickers under the 2005 anti-trafficking law, including three sex traffickers, five labor traffickers, and two traffickers for unspecified forms of trafficking, and sentenced them to between three and 10 years’ imprisonment. This compared with prosecuting and convicting 14 traffickers in 2021. In some cases, the government prosecuted alleged traffickers under the Children’s Act of 1998 when there was insufficient evidence to obtain a conviction under the anti-trafficking law. The government prosecuted and convicted two defendants for exploitative child labor under the Children’s Act; courts sentenced one defendant to two months’ imprisonment and the other defendant to three months’ imprisonment. Despite reports of fraudulent labor recruiters exploiting Ghanaian victims abroad, the government did not report investigating or prosecuting any fraudulent recruitment cases. The government did not report cooperating with foreign counterparts on law enforcement activities.

The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees allegedly complicit in human trafficking crimes; however, official corruption and complicity in trafficking crimes remained significant concerns, inhibiting law enforcement action. Observers alleged some traffickers operated with the support or acquiescence of law enforcement or justice officials and some officials interfered in law enforcement proceedings. Some law enforcement officers reportedly solicited bribes from suspects and sought payment from victims or civil society for transportation or operating expenses to initiate investigations; some senior police officers reportedly attempted to intimidate civil society from reporting trafficking cases. Traffickers reportedly bribed law enforcement officials and government-appointed monitors in charge of inspecting Ghanaian-flagged fishing vessels for illegal practices, including forced labor. Although not explicitly reported as human trafficking, an international organization reported there were four new allegations submitted in 2022 of alleged sexual exploitation with trafficking indicators by Ghanaian peacekeepers deployed to the UN peacekeeping missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2011 and 2012 and South Sudan in 2022. The government had not yet reported the accountability measures taken, if any, for the open cases at the end of the reporting period. The government closed one case reported in 2019 of alleged sexual exploitation involving peacekeepers deployed to South Sudan.

The Ghana Police Service (GPS), Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), and the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) had dedicated, specialized anti-trafficking units. The government, in collaboration with NGOs and foreign donors, provided extensive training to law enforcement, judicial officials, social workers, and front-line workers on trafficking definitions and legal concepts, investigative and prosecutorial techniques, trauma-informed care, and victim identification and protection. The GPS and GIS police academy provided anti-trafficking training to new police officers. Government officials and NGOs reported the government did not provide sufficient funding and resources, facilities, or land and marine vehicles for anti-trafficking law enforcement operations. This, combined with a lack of shelter capacity, delayed investigations and operations to remove potential victims from exploitative situations. Inadequate evidence collection, weak collaboration between police and prosecutors, and a lack of experienced state attorneys further hampered prosecution of suspected traffickers. Judicial resources were concentrated in urban areas, leaving some victims in rural communities with limited access to the formal justice system.

from 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report – U.S. Department of State

2023 Trafficking in Persons Report – United States Department of State

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