Three boys enslaved on Ghana’s Lake Volta are free thanks to the efforts of IJM and Ghanaian partners. These children, ages 8, 13 and 15 had been enslaved in the fishing industry for about two years.
Not only were three children rescued, but four arrests took place; police investigators and state attorneys worked promptly to have the case heard in court the day following the rescue. All suspects faced charges on counts of human trafficking, exploitative labor, and hazardous labor.
Two suspects pleaded guilty to human trafficking, carrying a five-year prison sentence. One of the convicted suspects who had used the children for labor will also have to pay a fine, or spend an additional year in prison if unable to pay.
While IJM has previously seen convictions for child labor in its cases in Ghana, these convictions are IJM Ghana’s first human trafficking convictions.
"These were our first [trafficking] convictions and will be critical to a future where children are no longer being sold or treated as commodities in Ghana," Will Lathrop, Country Director for IJM Ghana said.
Upon rescue, the children shared with social workers details of their grueling work conditions. The 8-year-old said his job was to scoop water from the canoe. He would be caned by the slave owner whenever he did something the man felt was wrong. This young boy was afraid of harsh winds and storms but had to go on the boat regardless of the weather to avoid being caned.
The 15-year-old was on his way to start his days’ work around 2 a.m. when he was rescued. This had been his routine for many years. After rescue, he shared with social workers that he already had a clear idea of what he wanted to do next, “I want to go to school. I would like to be a doctor in the future.”
The children have been placed in a safe care home to receive further assessment and have their immediate needs addressed.