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Opinions of Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Columnist: Akomea, Bill Graham Osei

Child trafficking must stop

Child trafficking is a broad term that refers to the buying, selling or illegal
transportation of children.According to the Palermo Protocols definition, it is
“the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by
means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, fraud,

It also includes “Giving, receiving payments or benefits to achieve control over
another person, for the purpose of exploitation...” According to the Palermo
Protocols, exploitation includes forced labour and servitude. Child exploitation
can also include forced laboror services, slaveryor practices similar to
slavery, servitude, the removal of organs, illicit international adoption,
trafficking for early marriage, recruitment as child soldiers, for use in
beggingor as athletes (such as child camel jockeysor football players), or for
recruitment for cults
The Palermo definition is not limited to cross-border trafficking – between
neighboring States – and can be applied to both internal and intercontinental
It is a form of Trafficking in human beingsas defined by the UN Protocol to
Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and
Children. The International Labour Organizationconvention 182defines it as a
form of child labor.
Some forms it takes in Ghana
In Ghana, many children are trafficked from their home villages to the cities.
There are also increasing cases of children trafficked to work in the fishing,
mining, farming and quarrying communities. There have also been reports of some
people whose business is to traffic children from Ghana to neighboring

Many children, and their parents, believe that going away to work is a route to
a better life. Most parents don't know the value of education; for them, it's
more immediately valuable for their children to be given out to work. In the
fishing communities for instance, children represent cheap labour, and their
samll nimble fingers are useful in releasing the fish from the ever smaller

What victims go through
Victims of Child trafficking go through a lot.Children victimized by human
trafficking will likely emerge with mental problems, substance abuse,
prostitution, and even commit these same acts, as they grow older. They mostly
suffer from dental decay, malnutrition and pain, for the lack of a proper diet.
They are often psychologically scarred and bitter after being saved. The
traffickers smuggle more boys than girls in the coastal areas for instance. The
girls they do traffic are treated as sex objects, and so they scarcely tell
their stories. They suffer quietly.

The welfare of the child is always paramount
The UN declaration Relating to the Welfare of Children emphasises the preference
for children being raised by family members, rather than by adoptive families.
“The child shall, wherever possible, grow up in the care and under the
responsibility of his parents and, in any case, in an atmosphere of affection
and of moral and material security.
Even in the case of international adoption, the Convention on Protection of
Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoptionwhich was developed
by the Hague Conference on Private International Law, provides that Intercountry
adoptions shall be made in the best interests of the child and with respect for
his or her fundamental rights. To prevent the abduction, the sale of, or traffic
in children each State should take, as a matter of priority, appropriate
measures to enable the child to remain in the care of his or her family of
In Ghana, the Children’s Act, 1998 provides thatno person shall deny a child the
right to live with his parents and family and grow up in a caring and peaceful
environment. Unless it is proved in court that in living with his or her parents
the child would be exposed to significant harm; subject to serious abuse or
lifewith his or her parents would not be in the best interest of the child.

The Way Forward
By this article, I would like to remind the general public that child
trafficking is criminal and we must all be involved in educating ourselves on
the need to put an end to it. I would call on the Ministry of Women and
Children’s Affair and all appropriate state department and agencies to revisit
strategies put in place o fight this canker and make necessary modifications.
Non governmental organizations that are involved in fighting this canker should
not relent on their efforts.
Child trafficking is a brutal violation of the rights of children. It is an
affront to their dignity and a blatant disregard for their personhood. Let us
all come together to chase it out of our society.

Bill Graham Osei Akomea
the writer is with the Plight of the Child International (POCI)