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Regional News Sat, 3 Jun 2006

GNCC holds durbar on child trafficking

Miaso-Kwahu (ER), June 03, GNA- A State Attorney, Mr Emmanuel Essampong, has appealed to the public to expose persons suspected to be engaged in human trafficking since punitive actions, including a possible five years jail term will be meted out to persons who had foreknowledge on the issue but failed to report to the Police.

Mr. Essampong said the "Good Samaritan" provision in the Human Trafficking Law made it a crime not to report to the law enforcement authorities people suspected of engaging in the act or to serve as a conduit or intermediary for any of the parties involved in the practice.

Addressing the chiefs and people of Kwahu Miaso in the Eastern Region on Thursday, Mr Essampong said the harsh penalties to be meted out to people engaged in the act was part of the measures being taken by the Government to preserve the intrinsic worth and dignity of all people resident in Ghana.

The law, he added, was also to preserve the sanctity of children and to ensure that their rights were not trampled upon by persons actuated by monetary, religious and other motives because their actions run counter to national and international sensibilities.

The forum was organized by the Ghana National Commission of Children(GNCC) as part of its Information Dissemination Programme (IDP)on laws affecting children. The IDP at Kwahu Miaso was being undertaken against the backdrop of findings that that revealed that children, especially those of Northern extraction, were being hauled there by some unscrupulous persons to be engaged in diverse exploitative labour in the area.

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Mr Essampong cautioned chiefs in the area to sensitise their people so they do not condone the illegal practice but rather expose those engaged in the act and have them prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to others. In a speech read for him, the Eastern Regional Minister, Mr Yaw Barimah, said with the introduction of the Capitation Grant and the subsequent abolition of school fees in basic schools, it was no longer tenable for parents to send their children into servitude with poverty as an excuse.

He charged the leaders of the 15 communities in the region in which the incident of human trafficking had been identified, to endeavour to report all forms of the incident to the law enforcement agencies for the appropriate action to be taken. Mr. Barimah, however, conceded that the welfare of such unfortunate victims should remain the prime concern of the people rather than the punishment that would be meted out to the traffickers alone.

The acting Executive Secretary of the GNCC, Mr Peter Edufo, pointed out that child trafficking was not just a violation of children's rights, but also a violation of national and international norms.

He expressed his displeasure of parents offering their children in servitude for pittances, adding, "no excuse could ever atone for the psychological trauma that children in such trying circumstances offered suffered." The Eastern Regional Guidance and Counselling Co-ordinator, Mr. Rex Baah Antiri, spoke on the negative effect of child trafficking and the nation and said the ill-feeling that

such children suffered during the period of servitude were often manifested in anti-social acts such as drug-pushing, armed robbery and prostitution. 03 June 06

Source: GNA
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