The government maintained anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The 2005 Human Trafficking Act, amended in 2009, criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking. The Human Trafficking Act prescribed penalties of a minimum of five years’ imprisonment, which were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. However, the 2015 regulations for this Act, which are non-discretionary and have the force of law, provided specific guidance on sentencing depending on the circumstances; in general, the term is not less than five years’ imprisonment and not more than 25 years’ imprisonment, but if a parent, guardian, or other person with parental responsibilities facilitates or engages in trafficking, they are liable to a fine, five to 10 years’ imprisonment, or both. By allowing for a fine in lieu of imprisonment, these penalties were not commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as rape.
Authorities investigated 87 trafficking cases, including 63 labor trafficking and 24 sex trafficking cases, in 2020, compared with investigating 137 cases in 2019. The government initiated prosecutions of 18 alleged labor traffickers and continued prosecutions of four alleged labor traffickers, compared with prosecutions of 37 defendants in 2019. Additionally, the government prosecuted four defendants for exploitative child labor using the Children’s Act of 1998, compared with five in 2019; in some cases, the government prosecuted trafficking cases under the Children’s Act when there was insufficient evidence of trafficking. The courts convicted 13 labor traffickers in 2020, an increase compared with convictions of 10 traffickers in 2019. The government did not report prosecuting or convicting any alleged sex traffickers, compared with prosecutions of 15 defendants and convictions of three sex traffickers during the previous year. Of the 13 traffickers convicted, the courts sentenced nine traffickers between five years’ and 18 years’ imprisonment, which was in compliance with penalties prescribed under the 2005 human trafficking law. The courts sentenced one trafficker to 14 days’ imprisonment and a 6,000 Ghanaian cedis ($1,030) fine, fined one trafficker 3,600 cedis ($620), and fined two defendants 240 cedis ($41) for child labor violations. In 2019, the government initiated prosecutions of two defendants for operating a labor recruitment firm without a license; the government did not report if it continued the prosecutions in 2020.
The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials allegedly complicit in human trafficking crimes; however, official corruption and complicity in trafficking remained concerns, inhibiting law enforcement action during the year. Observers alleged that traffickers operated with the support or acquiescence of law enforcement or justice officials, and that some government officials interfered in law enforcement proceedings. Although not explicitly reported as human trafficking, an international organization reported two cases of sexual exploitation and abuse with trafficking indicators from previous reporting periods involving Ghanaian peacekeepers deployed to the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan; the international organization substantiated the allegations and repatriated the individuals. The government initiated investigations of both cases, and in at least one case, dismissed the charges for lack of evidence after unsuccessful attempts to obtain witness testimony.
Government officials and NGOs reported the government did not provide sufficient resources, facilities, land and marine vehicles, or funds for operation to law enforcement for investigations of trafficking cases. This, combined with a lack of shelter facilities for identified victims in most regions, delayed investigations, operations to remove potential victims from exploitative situations, and prosecutions. Inadequate evidence collection, weak collaboration between prosecutors and police, and a lack of experienced state attorneys hampered prosecution of suspected traffickers. The government continued providing introductory anti-trafficking training for Ghana Police Service and Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) recruits. In collaboration with NGOs and foreign donors, the government trained 58 law enforcement officials on trafficking, investigative techniques, and victim support and conducted capacity building training for 97 justice officials and 55 staff members on gender-based violence and human trafficking.