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General News of Monday, 4 March 2019

Source: citinewsroom.com

Government must probe CNN’s child slavery documentary – NUGS

The National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) is calling for an intensive investigation into allegations of child slavery on the Volta Lake reported by the international broadcast firm, CNN.

According to the student union, it is only through an investigation that the government can ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the allegations.

In an interview with Citi News, NUGS President, Richmond Tinkaro bemoaned how the reportage has dented Ghana’s international reputation.

He explained that the investigation would aid the government to know the best of actions to take.

“The Union thought it wise to investigate what they are saying . Whether it is true or false. If it is true, the government has to take the necessary steps to ensure that they work to prevent such children from going for fishing. If it is false, then they must apologize,” he said.

CNN in the past week has been airing the documentary that estimated that about 20,000 child slaves are working as fishermen on Lake Volta.

The government is, however, protesting the documentary.

It says the documentary does not show the efforts of the government to address the challenge of child labour on the Volta Lake.

The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah said he reached out to CNN via phone and a letter to inform them that while the government acknowledges the practice, it has worked in the last decade to curb the issue leading to significant successes.

In the documentary, the producers said “the lake, which was only created in 1965 with the construction of a hydro-electric dam, is home to an estimated 20,000 child slaves.

“Children as young as five are sold to human traffickers and made to work as fishermen for up to 12 hours a day, seven days a week. They are beaten. They are abused. They eat scraps off the table and sleep on the dirt.”

“Some of these children drown when forced to dive under the water to untangle fishing nets. These forgotten children become yet another anonymous corpse resting at the bottom of the lake. When they die, no one is there to grieve for them, and no one is punished for enslaving and endangering them. The only loss is a financial one. The fisherman who bought the child had paid the price of a cow to turn him into a slave,” CNN added in the documentary.

Arrest and prosecute perpetrators

NUGS in a separate statement also called on the government to cause the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of the child slavery issue.

“NUGS, therefore, calls on the government and all other stakeholders to intervene in the situation on the Volta Lake and call for the arrest, prosecution and conviction of perpetrators of child trafficking into forced or voluntary labour,” the statement added.

Below is the full statement from NUGS:

NUGS CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION INTO ALLEGATIONS OF CHILD SLAVERY ON GHANA’S VOLTA LAKE

The attention of the National Union of Ghana Students has been brought to a documentary that was telecasted on the American international broadcaster, CNN with the heading CNN Exposes Child Slavery on Ghana’s Lake Volta and a title, Troubled Waters.

The documentary exposed the plight of children of school going age being exploited in a manner akin to slaves in their motherland.

It is sad to know, as per the documentary, in Ghana, 20,000 children work as slaves in the fishing industry. This fact is degrading and does not fit the current state of education in the country. We call on the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection to investigate the situation generally and the numbers coming up. NUGS is committed in helping in this regard. Fishing is a dangerous work unfit for a child.

Trafficking of children into forced labour is illegal in Ghana. The United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, is the main international legal framework to combat trafficking, with the objective of protecting and assisting victims of human trafficking with full respect for their human rights. Indeed, the laws of Ghana promise adequate protection for children from forced labour and trafficking.

The Constitution of the Republic of Ghana 1992 (CRG) requires that Parliament enact laws that protect children against exposure to physical and moral hazards and work that adversely affects their development. The Ghanaian HTA prohibits human trafficking into, within, and through Ghana; secures the government’s commitment to providing for the care and rehabilitation of trafficked persons; and prohibits the use of trafficked persons in labour situations the penalty for which, is imprisonment for a term of no less than five years. Under the statute, a person who provides another person for purposes of trafficking commits an offence even when the provider is a parent.

NUGS, therefore, calls on the government and all other stakeholders to intervene in the situation on the Volta Lake and call for the arrest, prosecution and conviction of perpetrators of child trafficking into forced or voluntary labour.

The Union is committed to safeguarding the interest of young children of school going age to receive a quality education in promoting education and development in Ghana.

Signed

Kobby Otchere Marfo Press & Information Secretary, NUGS

Tinkaro Asare Osei President, NUGS