Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

GHANA: Tier 2 Watch List

Ghana is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. The trafficking of Ghanaians, particularly children, within the country is more prevalent than the transnational trafficking of foreign migrants. Ghanaian boys and girls are subjected to forced labor within the country in fishing, domestic service, street hawking, begging, portering, artisanal gold mining, quarrying, herding, and agriculture. Ghanaian girls, and to a lesser extent boys, are subjected to prostitution within Ghana. Child prostitution is prevalent in the Volta region and is growing in the oil-producing western regions. Ghanaian girls are subjected to a form of forced ritual servitude to atone for sins of a family member, which can last for a few months or several years. There has been an increase in the number of Ghanaian girls and young women from the northern region working as head porters in greater Accra; they are at risk for sex trafficking and forced labor. Ghanaian women and children are recruited and sent to West Africa, the Middle East, and Europe for forced labor and sex trafficking. There was an increase in the number of young Ghanaian women recruited with the promise of domestic or hospitality industry jobs in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon. After their return many of them reported being deceived, overworked, starved, abused, molested, and/or forced into prostitution. Ghanaian men were also recruited under false pretenses to the Middle East and subjected to forced labor in the domestic sector and forced prostitution. In recent years a few Ghanaian men and women were identified as victims of forced labor in the United States. Women and girls voluntarily migrating from Vietnam, China, and neighboring West African countries are subjected to sex trafficking in Ghana. Citizens from West African countries are subjected to forced labor in Ghana in agriculture or domestic service. Ghana is a transit point for West Africans subjected to sex trafficking in Europe, especially Italy and Germany. Reports of corruption and bribery in the judicial system continued, stymieing anti-trafficking measures.

The Government of Ghana does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Despite these measures, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing anti-trafficking efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore, Ghana is placed on Tier 2 Watch List. During the reporting period, the failure to provide operating budgets for law enforcement and protection agencies hampered the government’s anti-trafficking efforts. Although the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) of the Ghana Police Service (GPS) continued law enforcement efforts focused primarily on cross-border trafficking cases, it once again relied heavily on foreign donors and NGOs to support these efforts and significantly fewer victims were identified. Additionally, for the fourth year, the government did not provide anti-trafficking training to prosecutors despite acknowledgment that such training was needed. The government supported protective services for foreign national victims, but did not provide any funding for the human trafficking fund for victim services or to its two shelters, which remained in dangerous condition and unable to provide basic services and security to residents. In a positive step, the government reconvened the Human Trafficking Management Board (HTMB).


Continue to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses—including internal labor and sex trafficking—and convict and punish trafficking offenders; designate an attorney general’s prosecutor in each region to lead the prosecution of human trafficking cases; provide the police’s AHTU adequate resources to conduct law enforcement efforts; train law enforcement, child labor inspectors, and social welfare personnel to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations—such as women in prostitution, migrant workers, and children working in agriculture, mining, fishing, and portering—and refer them to protective services; provide trafficking-specific training to prosecutors and other judicial personnel; adopt the legislative instrument and fully implement the 2005 Human Trafficking Act; provide sufficient government funding for protective services to victims, including to the human trafficking fund; ensure the maintenance of government-operated shelters and training of staff in victim care; improve data collection and reporting on victims identified and assisted; take appropriate measures to regulate the activity of licensed and unlicensed recruitment agencies and investigate agencies suspected of participating in human trafficking of Ghanaian migrant workers; and provide adequate resources for the HTMB to finalize and implement the national plan of action against trafficking.


The government continued anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The 2005 Human Trafficking Act—amended in 2009 to align its definition of human trafficking with the 2000 UN TIP Protocol—prohibits all forms of trafficking and prescribes penalties of five to 20 years’ imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. In 2014, the government conducted 94 investigations, initiated 15 prosecutions, and secured seven convictions, compared with 140 investigations, 20 prosecutions, and six convictions in the previous year. Most of the investigations involved suspected transnational trafficking. One conviction involved forced child labor, while six were for sex trafficking crimes involving adult victims. The convicted traffickers received sentences ranging from five to 10 years’ imprisonment. The Attorney General’s Department prosecutors did not report prosecuting trafficking cases; the AHTU and the GPS prosecutors were responsible for the vast majority of the human trafficking investigations, prosecutions, and convictions, but the AHTU did not receive an operating budget during the reporting period and relied on funding and support from international and local donors for operations. As in previous years, AHTU officials were unable to act on many suspected trafficking reports because they lacked resources, such as logistical support, facilities, and equipment to conduct investigations.

Although officials acknowledged prosecutors lacked training and resources to prosecute trafficking cases fully, no prosecutors have received specific anti-trafficking training since 2011. The government did not support any specialized anti-trafficking training for government officials during the reporting period, although new recruits in the Ghana Immigration Service and the GPS received training on trafficking-related topics as part of their basic introductory training. Although government officials have cited the need for parliamentary approval of a “legislative instrument”—akin to implementing regulations—to apply the 2005 Human Trafficking Act more effectively, the draft instrument remained under review after more than three years. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses; however, reports of general corruption and bribery in the judicial system continued during the reporting period, inhibiting law enforcement action.


The government demonstrated decreased efforts to protect victims. The government did not keep comprehensive statistics for the number of trafficking victims identified; however, the AHTU and the Human Trafficking Secretariat reported identifying 146 victims, at least 82 of whom were Ghanaian victims returning from trafficking situations in Gulf countries in 2014. This is a decrease from 182 victims reported identified in 2013. Most child victims were referred to NGO-run facilities that offered protective care; the government provided adult foreign national victims with hotel accommodation and food. No information is available regarding assistance to Ghanaian victims returned from the Gulf. The Human Trafficking Fund, which was established by the 2005 Human Trafficking Act to finance protection efforts, was unfunded for the third consecutive year; shelters operated in seriously dilapidated conditions without the resources to make basic repairs, and government officials used donor and their own personal funds to assist victims. The Department of Social Welfare (DSW) was responsible for operating the two government-supported shelters in Ghana—the Shelter for Abused Children in Osu (Osu Shelter), a multipurpose shelter, and the Madina Shelter for Rescued Trafficked Children in Madina (Madina Shelter), the only shelter specifically for trafficking victims; however, the DSW did not provide any funding to these shelters during the reporting period and both shelters were in serious disrepair and lacked security. The Madina Shelter provided shelter to only one child trafficking victim during the reporting period before its use as a shelter was discontinued in mid-2014. Additionally, the Osu Shelter is located on the same compound as a juvenile correctional facility, and there is no structural barrier protecting the victims from criminal offenders. Shelter officials struggled to feed, clothe, and provide general care for trafficking victims, relying primarily on support from international organizations. Both shelters provided short-term care, generally limiting victims’ stays to three months, although extensions were granted on a case-by-case basis. The Osu Shelter had a maximum capacity of 30 child victims; the government therefore relied heavily on NGOs to provide shelter and care to child victims. There were no government-run shelters for adult victims.

The government did not employ formal procedures to identify victims among vulnerable groups, such as women in prostitution or children at work sites; however, law enforcement agencies operating at the border initiated questioning to recognize indicators of trafficking. The government encouraged an unspecified number of victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offenders and provided them with protective escorts and legal counsel during trial proceedings; however, law enforcement officials stated they did not have the means to provide shelter or to effectively protect witnesses. Foreign victims may 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; no victims sought temporary or permanent residency during the year. There were no reports victims were penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking; however, due to a lack of formal victim identification procedures, some unidentified victims may have remained unidentified in the law enforcement system.


The government demonstrated a modest increase in anti-trafficking prevention efforts. With support of an international organization in 2014, the government reconvened the HTMB, the inter-ministerial committee responsible for advising the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection (MGCSP) on anti-trafficking policy, promoting prevention efforts, and facilitating the rehabilitation and reintegration of trafficking victims. However, the MGCSP did not receive any government funding to fulfill its mandate to conduct monitoring and evaluation, data collection, and research relating to trafficking. With support from an international organization, the MGCSP and members of the HTMB began review of the draft national action plan, which was not finalized or adopted during the reporting period. The government partnered with local administrative bodies, at the district, municipal, and community levels to conduct awareness campaigns on the dangers of child labor and child trafficking and, with donor support, participated and assisted in the organization of similarly focused anti-trafficking information campaigns, including sensitization programs in the Volta region and cocoa-producing communities. State-owned radio and television programs aired anti-trafficking programming and partnered with an NGO to show a documentary on child trafficking on 540 inter-city buses. In response to increasing reports of serious physical abuse and sex and labor trafficking of Ghanaian women recruited for domestic and hospitality jobs in the Middle East, the Ghana Immigration Service issued a warning to Ghanaians regarding the dangers of such travel, and Ghanaian authorities called for the abolition of the visa permitting such employment in Middle Eastern countries. Despite acknowledging the growing number of unlicensed and fraudulent recruitment agencies increasingly facilitating the trafficking of Ghanaian men and women to the Middle East, the government failed to increase its oversight of recruitment agencies or investigate and prosecute those allegedly responsible for fraudulent recruitment. The government took no measures to decrease the demand for forced labor. In an effort to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts, AHTU continued to arrest potential clients. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training to Ghanaian troops prior to their deployment abroad on peacekeeping missions, though such training was provided to Ghanaian troops by foreign donors. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel.