Human trafficking is happening in every corner of the globe. Since it is a hidden crime, the full scale of the menace of human trafficking cannot be definitely detected and tackled by any country on its own. Ghana is not exempted from the universal challenge of trafficking in persons, as Ghana endures as a destination, source and transit country for trafficking in persons. In a quest to control this phenomenon globally, IOM as an intergovernmental organisation concerned with migration issues, has a counter trafficking unit in its country offices that works with states to combat trafficking internally and internationally. This study analyses the extent of collaboration between IOM, the Government of Ghana and other related state institutions in preventing Human Trafficking in West Africa, with specific reference to Ghana. The study is purely qualitative and relies primarily on literature review and interviews for data collection and analyses. Major findings from the study reveal that the activities done by the IOM in cooperation with the Government of Ghana and other agencies to prevent the phenomenon of human trafficking in Ghana included awareness creation, lobbying for effective legislation against human trafficking, promotion of economic development, assisting in capacity building and development of the “FREE TO BE ME” Tool Kit. The intervention by the IOM in preventing human trafficking in Ghana has yielded some successes including sensitization and advocacy through education, and assistance in the formulation of legislative laws to criminalize human trafficking. IOM also assisted in the formation of an Anti-Trafficking Units for both the Ghana Police Service and the Ghana Immigration Service to identify human trafficking cases within and across borders and to also sanction culprits, rescue trafficked victims and help reintegrate them back into society. IOM also implemented capacity building training, workshops and seminars and also promotion of economic development through education, by providing technical and vocational trainings to empower people economically. These achievements serve as deterrent to people involved in human trafficking in Ghana. However, IOM has encountered some challenges in its quest to help prevent human trafficking in Ghana. These challenges include poverty and economic hardships, poor cooperation, and lack of political will on the part of the government. The study therefore concludes that, The IOM has played a significant role in cooperation with other stakeholders in the prevention of human trafficking in Ghana. To this end, the study recommends that the Government of Ghana should continue to collaborate effectively with states and other international agencies such as the IOM, UNICEF, UNODC, among others, to effectively help tackle the menace of human trafficking in Ghana.


       Background to Research Problem Statement

International Relations principally emerged to foster international cooperation among countries in order to manage global threats or crises that beset the international system.1 In an international system with the absence of a central authority regulating it, international security is one of the main driving forces that helps keep the system together. For many years, security was largely conceptualized in terms of national security issues relating to the territorial integrity of borders, sanctity of sovereignty, safety of government and continued existence of the state.2 However, after the Cold War, the scope and definition of security, even international security, happen to have been expanded and considered in a more holistic term, placing emphasis on human security dimensions.3 The traditional sense of security, largely perceived in military requisite and external to state, has given way to other matters that are transnational in nature, and affect human security, such as proliferation of small arms and light weapons, organized crime, human rights, migration related security threats, among others.4

Security, though not discarding its traditional notion, has increasingly been defined in transnational and human security terms based on upsurge in cross-border issues including money laundering, terrorism, human trafficking, human smuggling, drugs, weapons, kidnapping, arms trafficking and the like that affect countries globally. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US in 2001, some dysfunctional aspects of migration associated with terrorism, human trafficking and money laundering have been perceived as transnational perils to world security and peace. 5 This research

is concerned with the menace of trafficking in persons, the dangers it proposes to the rights of victims and the efforts of the international community; specifically, the role the International Organization for Migration (IOM), an intergovernmental organisation concerned with issues on migration has played in preventing this cruel business in human commodity in Ghana.

Human trafficking is the prohibited trade in human beings for the purposes of forced labour or commercial sexual abuse. It is a modern-day form of slavery, an act that comprises the illicit movement of persons from one country to another or internally from one area of a state to another for exploitative purposes. The victims are often exploited for prostitution, slavery, forced labour or removal of human organs.6 Since its abolition in 1800, many people today, perceive slavery as a thing of the past, but this social canker rests all too real in today’s world in various forms such as child labour, forced prostitution, trafficking for organs, forced labour and others. The ordeals and numbing effects of the cruelties Africa experienced during the slave trade for four centuries before its abolition are better forgotten than relived. However, it is a sad commentary on human civilization that our twenty-first century is presently bedevilled by modern day forms of trade in humans under dehumanizing conditions.

Trafficking in persons was an European concept which denoted the trafficking of women for sexual exploitation. It was always considered a gender-based practice as females in the 1900s were usually trafficked mostly for sex trade, and to a less extent, domestic labour. However, the international community realizing that men and children were also trafficked and exploited for forced labour, based on the wants of the destination, ballooned the position of human trafficking

on the radar screens of international diplomacy.7 Today boys are equally being trafficked for sexual and forced labour exploitation.

Typically, millions of persons are being trafficked annually; billions of dollars are being raked; and the dastardly practice is increasing.8 “According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC)” in its 2016 report, “the term modern slavery has recently been used in the context of different practices or crimes such as trafficking in persons, forced labour, and slavery, as well as child labour, forced marriages and others. The common denominator of these crimes is that they are all forms of exploitation in which one person is under the control of another.”9 Based on the global interest in trafficking of persons, Walk Free Foundation, an advocacy organisation against trafficking in persons and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in collaboration with the IOM, in a report released in September 2017, estimated that some 40.3 million people became victims of modern-day “slavery” in 2016.10 Records of estimated victims of trafficking vary world-wide due to challenges in gathering precise statistics on the number of trafficked victims, public mix-up, and the clandestine and illegal nature of the phenomenon.11

“According to the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) 2016 report”, human trafficking is present in every continent, and no country in the world today, is immune. In Africa statistics paint a grim picture of this heartless crime in human commodity, with victims from Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Cameroon seen among the highest numbers of people trafficked to a variety of destinations. West and East Africa are seen as source regions. North Africa is a transit for those who seek entry into Europe and the Middle East, and South Africa is a

destination for persons trafficked within the continent. Equally countries within the West African sub-region such as Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire are becoming destination countries.12

A report in November 2017 by US TV station CNN that sub-Saharan African migrants were being sold off as slaves in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, received international uproar and condemnation from world leaders, and put the spotlight on the plights of victims of human trafficking and migrants. Many African countries are faced with the challenge of their citizens illegally and irregularly migrating and ending up as slaves or victims of human trafficking.13 According to Interpol, in November 2017, authorities in Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal, rescued some 500 victims of human trafficking following a series of raids on crime networks engaged in human trafficking.14

There are common factors that fuel human trafficking though they often differ from country to country. These include poor domestic socio-economic conditions which induce forced migration both locally and internationally with the hope of having a better life elsewhere.15 Although the effects of human trafficking are serious and evident, some effects are immediate, and others are noticed over time, new victims emerge every day. The effects of human trafficking on states have a rippling effect on the citizens and the government. Resources allocated to help prevent it could have been used in developmental projects. Rule of law, democracy, transparency, and accountability of the state are often questioned.16

Considering the impact human trafficking has on individuals and society, the international community saw it fit to institute a plethora of measures to tackle the menace from the source,

destination and globally. At the beginning of the Millennium, the “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children”17 (also recognised as the Trafficking Protocol/Palermo Protocol) was adopted by resolution A/RES/55/25 on November 15, 2000, by members of the United Nations in Palermo, Italy, following several protocols already adopted in an attempt to combat the global human trafficking phenomenon. The first of such protocols adopted in 1902, was known as the International Agreement for the Suppression of White Slaves. However, the 2000 Palermo Protocol became a global legalised contract supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

The Trafficking in persons Protocol is part of three Protocols adopted to augment the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. The United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) launched the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN. GIFT) in March 2007, reminding governments and other stakeholders of their legal responsibility to fight human trafficking. The UN. GIFT sets out to organise states and non-state actors to stop trafficking in persons by eliminating the vulnerability of possible victims and the quest for all forms of abuse. Among its objectives, the UN. GIFT seeks to raise awareness, strengthen prevention and alleviate the reasons that make people vulnerable to trafficking. The UNODC promotes cooperation at all levels and works collectively or partners with the IOM, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) and other intergovernmental organizations to develop the UN. GIFT.18

IOM has over the years worked closely with other intergovernmental bodies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civil society organisations (CSOs), migrants and governments by providing

advice and services on issues of migration including prevention of human trafficking.19 The objective of this study is to assess the role IOM has played in preventing human trafficking in Ghana, as elaborated in the problem statement below.

       Statement of the Problem

Since independence, African countries have experienced sharp economic decline and falling standards of living while experiencing leaps in population growth. These experiences over time have resulted in problems of corruption, poor governance, poverty, hunger, and poor health delivery, causing a large section of Africans to migrate and seek greener pastures in the developed world and parts of Africa that are doing relatively better. Organised criminals have often taken advantage of vulnerable persons to traffic them. Trafficked persons are often victims of abuses such as unlawful confinement, rape, torture, debt bondage, and threat against their family or other people close to them.20The unfair treatment, maltreatment, and harsh experiences victims go through affect them physically, psychologically and socially.

To arrest the situation, a motley of organisations have emerged globally to prevent and manage human trafficking. Since trafficking in humans is not only a national problem but also a transnational crisis, it necessitates the coordinated efforts of international organisations collaborating with countries to help initiate and implement counter-trafficking measures. In the African context, human trafficking is more serious because it compounds the structural problems the continent faces in view of its meagre resources. Both local and international efforts are being made by states and the international community to stem the tide of human trafficking through local and international agencies. However, the actors in counter-trafficking appear to be many with

varied focus and ideologies. In Ghana, for example, institutions such as the UNHCR, ECOWAS, Ghana Police Service, Ghana Immigration Service, IOM, among others, are engaged in tackling human trafficking. Besides, their roles vary from prevention to management and rustication of persons and groups involved with human trafficking. It is often not clear who plays what role, and how the efficiency of counter-trafficking strategies and programmes are measured. The study sought to assess the IOM’s role in counter-trafficking measures. As the maxim goes, ‘prevention is better than cure.’ This study therefore sought to find out the role the IOM has played collaboratively to help prevent the canker of human trafficking in West Africa in general and Ghana specifically. For the reasons stated above, the study sought to answer the questions below.

       Research Questions

In this study, an attempt was made to answer the following questions:

  1. What is the nature, extent, and effects of human trafficking in Ghana?
  • What are the measures, especially preventive measures, put in place by IOM to help stem Human Trafficking in Ghana?
    • To what extent has IOM acted or collaborated with the Government of Ghana and other relevant state institutions in preventing Human Trafficking in Ghana?
    • What are the challenges and successes of IOM’s endeavours in preventing Human Trafficking in Ghana?

       Research Objectives

The study assessed how the IOM has helped to prevent human trafficking in Ghana. The specific objectives of the study were: to

  1. Analyse the extent, nature and effect of human trafficking in Ghana;
  • Examine the measures put in place by the IOM to help prevent Human Trafficking in Ghana.
    • Ascertain the extent of collaboration among the IOM, the Government of Ghana and other related state institutions in Ghana in preventing Human Trafficking in Ghana.
    • Examine the challenges and successes of the IOM’s measures in preventing Human Trafficking in Ghana.