By Gifty Arthur
Management of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), has completely refuted stories making the round in the media that, its officers sexually exploit victims of human trafficking, who were under the custody of the Service.
A statement issued by the GIS and copied to The Herald, said the story was not only false, but misleading and maligning.
“Indeed, no Officer of the GIS had sex with the victims and /or made any sexual demands on the victims. Moreover, Officers of the GIS did not make any financial demands for their release.
The publication of the false story and subsequent exposure of the location of the victims, will seriously hamper ongoing investigations”, the statement signed by the Acting Head/ Public Affairs Unit, Michael Amoako-Atta (DSI), said.
The GIS said, their operation to arrest human traffickers and rescue Ghanaian ladies from traveling to the Gulf Regions for greener pastures, has yielded tremendous results over the past three weeks that the government placed a temporal ban on that exercise.
But while in their custody under strict protection and supervision, some of the girls, demanded that they should be released to go back to their families, which some wanted immediately.
The statement said to facilitate their freedom from the Safe House, the girls according to the GIS, tried various means to secure their release “Hence the unfortunate accusations of sexual assaults labeled against Officers of the GIS”.
Below is the full statement by the GIS.
The facts of the case are as follows:
In the past few months, the GIS step up surveillance at the country’s land borders after the government placed a temporal ban on the use of the Kotoko International Airport for travels to the Gulf Regions of domestic servants.
Our vigilance at the borders paid off with numerous arrests and interceptions of human traffickers and their victims. Within a period of three weeks about Ninety (90) Girls were rescued from being trafficked to the Gulf Regions.
The rescued Girls were given initial counseling by officers of the Anti-Human Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons Unit (ASHTIP) of the GIS who are trained professionals in the handling of trafficked victims and their statement taken in an effort to prosecute the alleged suspects [Traffickers].
For the safety of the victims and other security considerations, the victims were sent to a Safe House where a Social Worker and other professional handlers took adequate care of them.
At the Safe House, the victims were given further counseling and taught some training in soap making, parazone production, batik and beads making, to give them alternative livelihoods when they are eventually reintegrated to their communities.
No Officer of the GIS lived in the Safe House with the victims and they were fed three times in a day. Visits to the Safe House by the GIS is always under the supervision of a Senior Female Officer.
On Tuesday, the 27th June, 2017 some of the victims agitated for their release and in the process about eight of the ladies escaped from the Safe House. The rest of the victims were immediately brought to the Headquarters of the GIS and were processed and released to their families on Wednesday, the 28th of June, 2017. They were provided with money for transport to their various destinations.
Investigations by the GIS and thorough interviews with the victims revealed that some of the victims were in a hurry to go home and therefore used various means to secure their release hence the unfortunate accusations of sexual assaults labeled against Officers of the GIS.
Indeed, no Officer of the GIS had sex with the victims and /or made any sexual demands on the victims. Moreover, Officers of the GIS did not make any financial demands for their release. The publication of the false story and subsequent exposure of the location of the victims will seriously hamper ongoing investigations.
The fight against human trafficking does not end with mere arrests or interceptions but securing a conviction in the court of law will be a strong deterrent to the traffickers. The media should be in the forefront in the fight against human trafficking and together we will win this battle. The doors of the GIS are always opened to the media any time they have issues that demands our response.
The GIS wishes to admonish the media to always crosscheck with Service before reporting on such issues. Stories like this only seek to break the morale of the Officers and Men of the Service who are in the forefront of the fight.
Their sacrifices in the face of dire challenges along the borders must be commended and appreciated to make their work one of a national pride. The GIS would continually seek the support and cooperation of the media to fight this menace.
The High Command of the GIS is resolved to ensure security at the country’s borders for a peaceful development of the country and will therefore not relent in its fight against human smuggling and trafficking in persons or any other illegal cross border activity.