Is Ghana’s Law Against Human Trafficking a Success?

Published date01 March 2022
Date01 March 2022
Subject MatterArticles
Is Ghana’s Law Against
Human Trafficking a Success?
Abdulai Kuyini Mohammed
This article assessed the success or otherwise of the Ghana Human Trafficking Act (GHTA), 2005,
in curbing human trafficking. On the basis of interviews and secondary information, the assessment
was done along the program, process, and politics dimensions. The evidence showed that GHTA
achieved fairly its program objectives. However, failures occurred in all the phases of the Act’s
enactment process. In particular, agenda setting suffered from definitional ambiguity surrounding
human trafficking and implementation was mired by resource constraints and financial impro-
priety. The findings also revealed that an integrated model of human trafficking has greater
explanatory pow er than a single one, but there i s inattention to this in extant literature. The article
concludes that lessons should be drawn from the specific type as well as the overall program,
process, and political failures of the Act. As in this case, an exclusive focus on technical learning
to the neglect of potential process and political failures has increased rather than decreased
the chances of policy failure. Moreover, the accent on legislative bans to the neglect of other
interventions is futile.
Ghana, human trafficking, policy, success, failures, program, process, political, dimensions
During the last two decades, human trafficking has become a topical issue around the world. The
phenomenon has not only assumed currency within national borders but also notoriety internation-
ally. The problem has received headlines in the media compelling anti-trafficking activism, enact-
ment and enforcement of trafficking laws in many countries, and the development of policies to deal
with it (Weitzer, 2014). It is quite formidable to obtain accurate human trafficking statistics because
of underreporting and the clandestine nature of the crime. The U.S. Department of State estimates
that 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. Another estimate suggests
that globally, between 500,000 and 4 million people are trafficked internally and across state borders
(United Nations Development Fund for Women, 2007). The International Labor Organization’s
(ILO, 2016) estimate of 21 mill ion trafficked victims in 201 4 was revised to 40.3 million fo r
2016. In 2017, the ILO estimated that there were 25 million victims of human trafficking around
Department of Political Science, University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana
Corresponding Author:
Abdulai Kuyini Mohammed, Department of Political Science, University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana.
Criminal Justice Review
ª2020 Georgia State University
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/0734016820971029
2022, Vol. 47(1) 53–76
the world. However, Konrad and Trapp (2017) reported a much higher figure of trafficked persons
worldwide at between 27 and 45.8 million.
Human trafficking is the fastest growing form of transnational crime (United Nations Office on
Drugs and Crime [UNODC], 2009), and it is now the second most profitable illegal enterprise
among drugs and arms trafficking (Foundation for Children, 2020; Ramsey, 2011). The value of
the sale of individuals and their labor is estimated to be US$32 billion (U.S. State Department,
2008), which has been revised by the ILO (2017) to US$150.2 billion per year as of 2017. The 2018
Global Report on Human Trafficking recorded victims of 137 different nationalities detected in 142
countries between 2012 and 2016, during which period, 500 different flows were identified
(UNODC, 2018).
The International Organization for Migration (2007) identified a gap in contemporary work on
human trafficking. A number of these gaps have implications for more accurate estimates of the
pervasiveness of human trafficking. These include overconcentration on trafficking of women for
sexual exploitation, extremely small number of studies examining trafficking for labor exploitation,
absence of work on trafficking of boys and men, small and nonrepresentative samples, lack of
external process and outcome evaluations of assistance programs, and dearth of research capacity
in developing countries. Other studies such as that of United Nations Global Initiative to Fight
Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT ) (2009) revealed that other forms of exploitat ion like forced or
bonded labor, domestic servitude, forced marriage, organ removal, and the exploitation of children
for begging are underreported. In addition, the involvement of women not only as victims but also as
traffickers has received scant attention. Finally, most trafficking is national (domestic) or regional
and is orchestrated by people who are related to or known by or whose nationality is the same as that
of their victims. Extant literature, however, tended to report almost exclusively on international
trafficking and ignored all these other dimensions.
Several of the points made here have been addressed in recent research. For example, the number
of male victims which often is reported as lower than female victims is now increasing. The 2016
UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons reported that 79%of classified trafficked indi-
viduals globally are women and children. However, current estimates put the figures at 71%of those
trafficked globally being women and girls while men and boys make up the remaining 29%(Free the
Slaves, 2018). Also, the number of forced labor victims which extant literature indicated as lower
than sex trafficking victims is now increasing, with males making up 63%of trafficked persons
between 2012 and 2014 (ILO, 2014). In some parts of the world, women trafficking women, which
used not to be the case, is now the norm (UNODC, 2017). Even more revealing is the fact that over
40%of trafficked victims were detected in their own countries, but previous literature believed that
international trafficking had preponderance over domestic trafficking (Sweileh, 2018).
The impact of trafficking on individuals is devastating. Men, women, and children are exposed to
rape, torture, violence, dangerous working conditions, poor nutrition, as well as drug and alcohol
addiction (Bales, 2004; Sweileh, 2018; UN.GIFT, 2008;). They are also exposed to HIV/AIDS and
other sexually transmitted and infectious diseases (Sweileh, 2018). For example, a study on traf-
ficked Nepalese girls and women found that 23%of them tested positive for HIV (Silverman et al.,
2007). Trafficking frequen tly leads to victims suffering from menta l health disorders and life-
threatening infections (Ottisova et al., 2016; UNODC, 2016). Examination of 207 trafficked women
from 14 countries reported that 95 %of them had experienced physical an d/or sexual violence
(Sweileh, 2018; Zimmerman et al., 2006). Naim (2005, p. 89) describes the trade in people as
...surely the most morally repugnant of all the illicit trades that flourish today.”
As a result of the adverse consequences of human trafficking on society, many countries around
the world have adopted measures to deal with it. The most popular measure that has been adopted
worldwide is legislative bans. The 2000 United Nations (U N) convention which is dubbed the
Palermo Protocol provided the impetus for the adoption of legislative bans. Countries such as the
54 Criminal Justice Review 47(1)

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