CNN failed to paint the true picture of the child trafficking menace in Ghana in a recent documentary that was aired on the television news channel, Betty Krosbi Mensah, the Member of Parliament for Afram Plains North, has said.
CNN in the past week has been airing the documentary which highlights child slavery in the country.
But a statement issued by the Ghanaian lawmaker noted that over the years, successive governments have adopted measures to deal with child trafficking and those strategies are yielding some remarkable results but were not captured in the CNN documentary.
The measures, she said, include the implementation of the Free Compulsory Basic Education (FCUBE), the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme, School Feeding Programme, distribution of free uniforms and others.
“I have just watched an unfortunate documentary recorded by CNN and being circulated on YouTube. I term it unfortunate because the said report is not the truth and does not represent the actual situation in Ghana and to be exact on the Volta Lake. As a member of parliament for Afram Plains North with over 60% of the people whom I represent, living on and around the Volta Lake, it is important to set the records straight. I also believe that it is only when the actual is brought to bear that as a people, we can prescribe the right solution to the problem,” the statement said.
She added in the statement: “In Ghana, children often live in closely connected families where members of the extended family participate in their upbringing. Children are sent to family members who are well-to-do with the hope of offering them better education, and others are also placed under apprenticeship to learn a trade such as fishing, carpentry etc. In some situations, some children who find themselves with wicked guardians are abused. I want to emphatically state that no parent in Ghana deliberately trades off their children for money. As a result, the many alleged cases of child slavery/trafficking on the Volta Lake are actually cases of child labour.
“In 2017, a total of 144 children were rescued on the Volta Lake by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection in collaboration with the International Justice Mission (NGO) and the Ghana Police Service. Investigations later revealed that there were only four cases of children who had been trafficked out of the 144 rescued, out of which two were non-Ghanaians.
“It is important to note that the government of Ghana, over the years, has undertaken a number of social intervention programmes to curb this menace of child abuse and child labour in our communities. They include free basic compulsory education, free school uniforms for schools, school feeding programme, livelihood empowerment against poverty (LEAP) and many more. However, these interventions have failed in achieving their ultimate purpose of addressing poverty due to the politicisation of these programmes, wrong targeting and lack of resource commitment by stakeholders.
“Unfortunately, some Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) exploit this unfortunate situation to enrich themselves by parading poor children who are living with their parents and relatives as children in bondage to solicit for financial benefits from international organisations. These NGOs paint a bleak picture of the situation just to satisfy their parochial interest.
“The good news is that a number of Members of Parliament from communities affected by this menace have come together with the support of the Rt. Hon. Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye and some benevolent organisations such as International Justice Mission, and are ready to support in the sensitisation of the people to understand the basic rights of children and to draw government’s attention to the plight of the people. We are very optimistic that with the right attention given to this unfortunate situation, the case of child labour/abuse and trafficking in Ghana will become minimal.”