Press Statement: Two (2) Social Welfare Staff Arrested For Stealing And Selling A Day-Old Baby

Sunday, May 13, 2018

On 25th April 2018, Myjoyonline reported of the arrest of two (2) Social Welfare staff for stealing and selling a day-old baby. According to Myjoyonline the accused were reported to have stolen the child from a maternity home, where the mother had been sent to give birth.

The two, Evelyn Jemima Alangeah and Samuel Obeng Afriyie admitted to selling the baby to a couple for over Ghc 16, 500.

The suspect Evelyn Jemima Alangeah charged the couple an amount of Ghc16, 500 for the adoption process.

The Ghana Police Service have questioned managers of the private maternity home as they process the suspect for court. According to DSP Juliana Obeng, the Police have taken custody of the baby after admitting the suspects to bail.

According to checks by Nhyira Fm at the regional office of the social welfare department, the accused who face conspiracy to wit child stealing and child stealing charges are still at post.

The Eban Centre for Human Trafficking Studies condemn without reservation, human trafficking and slavery in general and "Sale of a Child" in particular.

De-facto adoptions-meaning the practice of caring for a child either temporarily or permanently without a legally recognized contract-have long been practiced in many parts of Ghana. However, the traditional society did not remain static. As a result of social change and economic pressure, the kinship foster care system gradually lost some of its capacity to respond to the requirements of children needing alternative parental care.

The traditional foster care system lost its capacity to respond to these new social relations. Also, the failure to regulate private Non-Governmental Organizations resulted in the proliferation of Residential Care Facilities (RCFs). Whilst some residential care facilities are established with good intentions, the majority are used as means to acquire funds from donors and orphanage tourism.

In the advent of the existing struggle and turmoil in adoption and rights of children and women, the vulnerable and the aged; a change in government structure brought about the new Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), which was established by Executive Instrument (E.I.) 1 in 2013.

The new MoGCSP, having studied and assessed the system of adoptions and the various procedures propended for the promotion of the interest of children especially vulnerable and orphaned children, brought new policies and programmes.

The goal of the Care Reform Initiative (CRI), which is to establish a more consistent and stable approach to caring for vulnerable children in Ghana, so that each child will be assured a permanent home in a supportive and loving family was keenly studied.

The Ministry having noticed the rot in the processes of adoption in the various departments, and the frequent sale of children by unscrupulous RCFs in connive with the officials placed a moratorium on child adoption in Ghana, to address the current challenges and protect adopted children and their foster parents.

In lieu of the above government commenced a review of the adoption processes in Ghana and proposed an amendment to the Children’s Act,1998 (Act 560) and finalized the draft Adoption and Foster Care Regulations for Parliament which established a Central Adoption Authority and ensured accession to The Hague Convention.

This means all adoptions must follow the procedures as outlined in the amended Children’s Act 1998, Act 560 and The Hague Convention.

The case of the accused, Evelyn Jemima Alangeah and Samuel Obeng Afriyie clearly indicates deviation from established procedure for adoption in Ghana and must be prosecuted.

Simply put, human trafficking is when someone stands to gain from someone else’s exploitation. The actual act of exploitation need not have occurred to be considered trafficking; simply, motivation or intent to exploit for gain must be present.

Stealing and selling of a baby qualifies as an act of human trafficking per Ghana’s Anti-Human Trafficking Laws (Act 694 as amended) and also an infringement of the right of a child as stipulated in the Children’s Act (Act 560 as amended) and a criminal offence under the 1960 Criminal Procedure Act (Act 30).

In Ghana, many cases of human trafficking lack evidence for prosecution. According to the Trafficking in Persons Protocol, the crime of human trafficking consists of three elements:

1. Acts: such as transport, transfer, harbouring, receipt of a person, by
2. Means: of deception, coercion, abuse of a position of vulnerability and others for the
3. Purpose of exploitation: including sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, removal of organs.

The means listed in point (2) are irrelevant in case of children trafficking, the possible consent of a child being considered irrelevant, regardless of the circumstances in which it may have been expressed. Therefore, in cases involving children, two elements (acts and purpose of exploitation) are sufficient to determine if a case constitutes trafficking in children. Trafficking in persons can also be seen as a process, usually consisting of the three stages of recruitment, transport and exploitation.


Recommendation.


Failure on the part of Ghana has largely been as a result of low or absence of information, expertise on inter-country adoption and also the long practice of de-facto adoption. That notwithstanding, the examination also concludes that the continuous unhealthy relationships between staff of the Department of Social Welfare and unscrupulous agents in the sale of children as weakened the trust of Ghanaians and prospective parents in the adoptions system. It is therefore imperative for Ghana in the short-term to put in place measures to check and prosecute state officials engaged in such nefarious activities; they should be prosecuted and not transferred to serve in different regions.


Disciplinary and Judicial Responses:

Supervision, discipline, and accountability are key in preventing and combating the occurrence of corruption among staff who have the responsibility to investigate, prosecute trafficking in persons, or protect victims, as well as front-liners from police and immigration/customs/border control.

The violation of codes of conduct should entail sanctions. Further, there is the need to increase efforts to ensure Attorney General's Department prosecutors review human trafficking case dockets and lead the prosecution of human trafficking cases.

In Ghana, the Children's Act of 1998 (Act 560), requires that every parent has rights and responsibilities whether imposed by law or otherwise towards his child which include the duty to - protect the child from neglect, discrimination, violence, abuse, exposure to physical and moral hazards and oppression; provide good guidance, care, assistance and maintenance for the child and assurance of the child's survival and development; ensure that in the temporary absence of a parent, the child shall be cared for by a competent person and that a child under eighteen months of age shall only be cared for by a person of fifteen years and above. except where the parent has surrendered his rights and responsibilities in accordance with law. Parents failure to do so may result in a fine or a jail term.


-Signed-
Executive Director
Eban Centre for Human Trafficking Studies ®