Thirteen people have been arrested for allegedly engaging in human trafficking following a swoop by a team of security personnel on the Volta Lake. In the course of the operation, 43 children were rescued.
It was part of measures to clamp down on human trafficking activities in the country.
The swoop was conducted in communities along the Volta Lake such as Kpando Tokor, Abotoase and Kwamekrom.
The rescued children, who are between the ages of four and 16, were rescued from fishing boats on the lake during the swoop, which was jointly organised by personnel from the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) of the Ghana Police Service, the Navy and the Marine Police.
The operation was supported by the Department of Social Welfare and the International Justice Mission (IJM) – an international NGO that protects the poor against violence, slavery, sexual violence, police brutality, property grabbing and citizen rights abuse in the developing world. It has over 750 lawyers, investigators, social workers, community activists and other professionals working in 17 field offices (countries).
The head of the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit at the Volta Regional Police Command, Chief Inspector Joseph Nakoja, revealed that the 13 suspects believed to have engaged the minors in exploitative labour and hazardous fishing, were in police custody assisting the police to investigate human trafficking and illegal fishing activities on the Volta Lake.
He added that the victims, comprising 42 boys and a girl, had been sheltered in Ho, whiles officials of Social Welfare and IJM conduct an assessment on them to ascertain information regarding the whereabouts of their families.
Chief Inspector Nakoja also indicated that the operation was necessary to curb the increasing spate of the menace, “which has placed the Volta Region at the top of a recent report by the United States Embassy on Child Trafficking and Exploitative Labour incidences in Ghana.
He said an estimated 2.7 million child labourers are in the country, with the fishing, cocoa and artisanal mining sectors being the largest employers. Ghana has for two consecutive years been listed on the Tier Two watch list of the United States (US) Department of Trafficking in Person (TIP) in 2015 and 2016.
If this rating does not improve this year, Ghana is likely to lose donor support from the US and other foreign partners.
To this end, Mr. Nakoja hinted that the security agencies would conduct frequent swoops on the lake to nib the canker of child trafficking in the bud.