The government increased its overall protection efforts. The government reported identifying 611 potential victims of trafficking, compared with 348 potential victims identified during the previous year. The government identified fewer potential child victims of trafficking (200 compared to 252), and in contrast to the preceding year, the vast majority of the children identified in 2019 were not Ghanaian. GPS identified many children from neighboring countries during street operations, and social welfare provided them short-term care in a government shelter. Of the 611, the GPS identified 304 potential victims compared with 285 potential victims in 2018; 243 were potential victims of labor trafficking, most of whom were foreign national children. The GIS identified 280 potential trafficking victims compared with 55 in 2018; 244 were potential victims of labor trafficking, nearly all of whom (240) were Ghanaian women intercepted at the border before departing Ghana. In their sex trafficking cases, GPS and GIS identified 97 female potential victims (36 girls); nearly all (92) were foreign nationals, primarily from Nigeria, but also from Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Vietnam. The EOCO, the Bureau of National Intelligence, and the Department of Social Welfare identified 27 Ghanaians, most of whom were potential victims of labor trafficking. In addition, NGOs reported to the government that they identified 172 potential victims of trafficking. The government reported referring all 783 potential victims of trafficking for various forms of support and care. In some regions, trained government officials implemented SOPs that outline the roles of law enforcement and social welfare officers in screening, identification, referral, and protection of trafficking victims during and following operations to remove victims from suspected trafficking situations; however, NGOs reported a lack of logistical resources hampered implementation of SOPs in some cases.
The government increased its direct support for protection services for victims of trafficking by training staff and opening and operating a shelter for adult female victims of human trafficking during 2019. The government increased its support for services and expended 219,580 cedis ($38,800) for the care of 63 trafficking victims. Of this amount, the HTS expended 79,180 cedis ($13,990) for shelter, food, and care; 136,000 cedis ($24,030) for medical treatment; and 4,400 cedis ($780) to private shelters that provided victim care. Services for women and children included shelter, medical screening and care, needs assessment, psycho-social care, education and skills training, interpretation for foreign national victims, assistance obtaining identity documents, registration with the national health service, and assistance during legal proceedings. Most of the survivors who received services in the new government shelter were Ghanaian women who returned from trafficking situations in the Middle East. Some Nigerian, Congolese, and Vietnamese survivors of sex trafficking also received care in the shelter. The government’s foreign missions assisted with travel documents for Ghanaian victims abroad, and international donors supported the repatriation, rehabilitation, and reintegration of 23 Ghanaian survivors of trafficking. Ghanaian officials collaborated with the Nigerian, Congolese, Togolese, and Burkinabe foreign ministries to obtain identity and travel documents and interpreters, and facilitated repatriation of these nationals. Foreign victims could seek temporary residency during the investigation and prosecution of their cases and, with the interior minister’s approval, permanent residency if deemed to be in the victim’s best interest. Although no victims sought temporary or permanent residency during the year, two Nigerian female survivors stayed in Ghana to complete vocational training supported by an NGO. The government provided comprehensive care for one male survivor; but, due to the absence of a shelter for adult male victims of trafficking, most men received short-term housing support before reintegration. Relying primarily on private facilities operated by NGOs and faith-based organizations, the government referred most child trafficking victims to either one government-operated shelter for abused children or to one of nine privately operated shelters that provided or coordinated the provision of services, including community reintegration. The government signed a long-delayed memorandum of understanding that outlined the government’s and a donor’s support for establishment and operation of a specialized shelter for child trafficking victims. The donor transferred 22,000 cedis ($3,890) for child victim care, but the government did not open the shelter or expend the funds during the reporting period. The overall shelter capacity for child trafficking victims remained insufficient for the number of victims referred for care.
NGOs reported continued cooperation with national, regional, and local government officials through partnerships to prevent child trafficking and in preparation for and during law enforcement-led operations that were coordinated with local social welfare workers, who were responsible for screening victims, securing care orders through the district courts, and arranging placement for child victims. The government reported an increased number of adult victims (73 in 2019; 20 in 2018) participated voluntarily in prosecutions and received support, transport funds, and safe lodging during court proceedings; but, officials and NGOs reported that prolonged adjournments slowed prosecutions and impeded the participation of victims and other witnesses. Numerous child victims also participated as witnesses, and some courts provided child-friendly waiting rooms and enabled children to provide testimony via video transmission from another room or in judges’ chambers. Ghanaian law permits victims of trafficking to pursue monetary damages by filing a civil suit, but the government did not report any such suits during the reporting period. A hotline, administered in English and three local languages, received 3,013 calls related to domestic violence and other issues; it reported no calls related to human trafficking. There were no reports that officials fined, detained, or penalized trafficking victims for unlawful acts that traffickers compelled them to commit.