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General News of Wednesday, 20 September 2006

Source: GNA

Media urged to educate public on human trafficking

Accra, Sept. 20, GNA - Hajia Alima Mahama, Minister of Women and Children's Affairs, on Wednesday urged the media to join forces in educating the public on the dangers of human trafficking. =93Many people are unaware of the full extent and dimensions of the problem of human trafficking and the dangers it imposes on the society; we rely on members of the media to help to educate the public,=94 she said.

Hajia Alima was speaking at a two-day capacity building workshop for journalists on human trafficking in Accra. The workshop is aimed at sensitizing the media on the Human Trafficking Act, 2005 (Act 694) and empower journalists to identify issues on trafficking.

The Minister noted that human trafficking was a crime that was growing in West Africa saying 93the Region has witnessed dramatic expansion in the trafficking in persons in the last 30 years. =93It is estimated that about 200,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked each year in the Sub-Region,=94 she said.

According to her, women, children, the poorest and least educated persons fell victim to human trafficking, stressing that combating it would require a coordinated and vigorous effort of all States. =93Children are moved within and between countries to work as domestics in agriculture or in the markets. Women are tricked with promises of good jobs abroad but they are forced into prostitution in Europe and the Middle East,=94 Hajia Mahama pointed out. Touching on the Human Trafficking Act, the Minister noted that it would provide protection to both children and adults and called for more education on the Act.

She said a draft Plan of Action that sought to combat trafficking had been developed by some core government agencies and civil society organizations adding that this would help the Management Board, which was yet to be inaugurated.

Hajia Mahama said so far the Act had been disseminated in the Ningo, Ada, Bortianor, Kokrobite and Ekumfi Traditional Areas, where practice was said to be predominant.

Mrs Elizabeth Adjei, Director of the Ghana Immigration Service, noted that though human trafficking was real there was no data on it. Mrs Adjei, therefore, called for greater cooperation among the media, civil society organizations, security agencies and the public to stem it.

According to her most parents ignorantly gave their children out to persons forgetting about the dangers that they could go through. She said the enactment of the law on human trafficking was in the right direction but called for more collaboration between security agencies in combating it.

Mrs Estelle Appiah, a Director of Attorney General's Department, told journalists that under the Act, it was an offence to publish a report on human trafficking proceedings.

Mrs Appiah said a person, who was found guilty was liable to a fine of 30 million cedis or imprisonment not exceeding 12 months or both. She said in case where there was evidence that a trafficker gained movable or immovable property from human trafficking activity, 93the court shall order confiscation of the property=94. 20 Sept. 06

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