General News of Friday, 25 January 2013
Source: Daily Graphic
Six members of a syndicate have been arrested for allegedly trafficking young Ghanaian women and men to work as house-helps and shop attendants in Gulf countries.
Although the victims were promised attractive salaries of between $3,500 and $9,000 a month and free visas and tickets to those countries, some of them ended up being paid a paltry $100 a month.
They were also made to work to pay for their tickets and visa fees.
The suspects are Alhaji Dan-Liman, 49, of First Class Travel and Tours at Abossey Okai; Matthew Milla, 35, of Darcam Mission Travel and Tours at Anyaa; Jefferson Amos Albright, 30, a Liberian, and Mitchel Berchie,30, both of Starwell African Recruitment Agency.
The rest are Georgina Adjei, 32, of Georgina Ventures at Ashiaman and Francisca Aku Begbezena, 30, a teacher who acts as an agent by going round churches and other places to recruit young people.
So far, nine women have been rescued from Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar and they are currently assisting the police in their investigations.
The police suspect that more than 1,000 women and men who were sent to those countries under similar circumstances are being subjected to inhuman treatment.
Reports made by the victims to the police spoke of torture and inhuman treatment, resulting in the death of some of them.
According to the reports, some of the victims were made to work without pay, while others were treated like dogs, as food was thrown on the ground for them to pick and eat.
Some of the victims were also said to have been used as sex slaves.
Others were made to sleep in small rooms on roof tops where there was no ventilation. Some of the rooms were so small that the victims had to bend down before they could enter to rest or sleep.
Explaining the modus operandi of the syndicate, the Director-General of the CID, Commissioner of Police (COP) Mr Prosper Agblor, told the Daily Graphic that the syndicate ran radio programmes and advertisements, visited churches and attended social gatherings where they distributed fliers to woo people to go and work in those countries.
According to him, more than 20 young men and women recruited by the syndicate and other tour companies travelled on a weekly basis to the Gulf countries to seek greener pastures.
On arrival in those countries, their passports, mobile phones and luggage were taken from them, thereby making it extremely difficult for them to call back home and report to any authority the inhuman treatment meted to them.
Mr Agblor said the victims were made to work for several hours without break, after which they were given only a morsel of Syrian bread as food for the day.
He said some of the girls were forcibly turned into sex slaves for their masters to sleep with at will.
They were also given uniforms to distinguish them from other people in their host countries, a situation which made it very difficult for them to escape.
That was because anyone who saw them in the areas where they worked identified them as house-helps from a particular agency.
The people would, therefore, cause their arrest for them to be returned to the labour or recruiting agencies.
According to Mr Agblor some of the girls were made to work for families in turns — a week with a family and another week with another family.
At the end of the month, the victims were paid nothing because of the employment rules which demanded that workers could only be paid by families after working for them for a minimum of one month.
He said those rescued were a bit enlightened so they demanded to be sent back home because they could not stand the situation any longer.
He said it was when they had decided to return home that they were informed that their tickets and visas had been paid for by the recruiting agencies and, therefore, they had to work to refund such payments.
In Bahrain, for example, a Ghanaian pastor had to intervene to secure the release of some of the victims.