It said it is concerned that there is a child trafficking crisis in Ghana. "We are curious that within the last one week, four different suspected cases of child trafficking has been reported, and the number of children involve has been 400, something which is unprecedented in the country."
It said it appreciated the frustration of the Police in their bid to seek justice and punish child tracking offenders when there is no infrastructure and logistics to help the rescued children. "It is therefore in this light that the Challenging Heights is calling on the government to declare child trafficking as a national crisis, provide the Police with a crisis fund, and put the Police on a high alert in order to break the syndicate behind the trafficking of the children."
The release recalled that on July 30, 2010, 118 children in three buses were intercepted by the Police at Moree barrier near Cape Coast. A couple days earlier, two suspects were arrested for trafficking 50 children from the Upper East region to the Southern part of Ghana.
Another case, which promises to be the largest single case of suspected child tracking also involved over 240 children loaded in three different buses which was intercepted in the Greater Accra region on Sunday, August 3, 2010.
"As a country, we cannot take these occurrences for granted, especially as there seem to be a pattern in all these cases. We believe that there is a business syndicate behind these trafficking cases." It noted that what is more worrying is the fact that the phenomena is across the entire country, from Bolgatanga to Cape Coast.
However, Challenging Heights congratulated the Police on its effort in apprehending some of the suspected but did not hesitate to add that it believed that an intensive investigation would be conducted to unravel the network behind these crimes.
It was concerned that in almost all the cases, the Police simply released the suspects and handed the children back to their parents. "This gives us cause for concern and we have no doubt that Police efforts to crack down on child trafficking are being hindered due to lack of resources." It identified the absence of the logistics and shelters to house these children and feed them while investigations are pending as part of the problem.
Moreover, the Human Trafficking Act requires the Ministry of women and Children's Affairs to set up shelters for the victims of tracking but this requirement has not been fulfilled and almost no shelters have been constructed under the Act, the statement said.
Yet "in the face of the all these difficulties, we still have a lot of confidence in the Police to conduct thorough investigations and also urge the Police to look for suspects from both far and near."
The statement noted, for instance, that Hon. Alfred Abayateye, MP for Sege, is reported to have said that it is normal for the over 240 children to be bused in three vehicles to be sent to Yeji for various purposes.
"This statement from the honorable MP is disappointing and ill-advised. At the same time, it is instructive that the Police could begin their investigations with him by questioning his knowledge on where these children are usually taken to, how many times this happened under his watchful eyes, who recruits or organizes these children, and what benefits do come to him or those involved in organizing the children into those buses."
"We should not ignore his statement since that has the potential of helping the Police to get to the bottom of the case reported," Challenging Heights stressed.
Source: Public Agenda (Accra, Ghana)