Monday August 24, 2009 12:09 PM
A thirty-two-year-old woman who approaches expectant and breast feeding mothers with the intention of buying their babies has been arrested by the Railways Police.
Parllarze Yormiego, also called Salamatu Sulemana, who claims to be half Ghanaian and half Burkinabe, disguised herself as a pregnant woman and approached four young street women who live at Railways near Kantamanto in Accra Central in a bid to convince them to exchange their children for money ranging from GH¢40 to GH¢100.
She was arrested by a Good Samaritan, Nicholas Adjei, who overheard her transacting with one young woman over a possible sale of her child and alerted the police who picked and detained her.
Salamatu, who had told her potential victims that she was in a business of helping poor parents to care for their wards by buying the children and sending them abroad, told the young women that she was also an expectant mother.
However, a search on her at the police station revealed that she had stuffed her tummy with rags which she put in a net-like scarf and tied to her belly, making her appear like a pregnant woman.
According to the District Police Commander, DSP Daniel Asong Dankyi, Salamatu was brought in as a pregnant woman but upon interrogation, it was revealed that the pregnancy was a fake.
One of the purported victims, Akua Serwaa, 19, who is nine-month old pregnant told DAILY GUIDE that the accused, in the company of one man, approached her a few weeks ago one fateful night at about 8:00pm while she was sleeping at the yard of the Railways Station.
She called her aside and introduced herself that she works with some white men in a company that bought babies. Her mission there that night was to search for pregnant women she would care for until they delivered.
Salamatu would then give her an amount of GH¢100 if she agreed to the pact and gave her baby to her on the very day of delivery.
Thereafter, Salamatu started remitting Akua of various sums of money ranging from GH¢3 to GH¢5 for the past three weeks. She later bought two baby dress and two pieces of calico to wrap the baby.
She indicated that since she would pick the baby on the day of delivery, there was no need to give Akua more clothes because she would buy more dresses for the baby when she took it home.
She also said when the child is taken abroad, the mother would be granted the opportunity to see the photograph of the child only after six years, adding the mother would also be given a capital to trade.
But any of them who failed to comply with the pact, after enjoying her money, would be cursed with a dreaded deity which would strike her to death.
Salamatu on another occasion approached a 21-year-old, Lydia Adwoa Appiah , who has a three-month old baby, and indicated she had even bought four children and was in a hurry to pick one other at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.
She told Adwoa she would revisit her on August 26, 2009 in the company of two men to take her baby away in exchange of GH¢100.
However, according to Adwoa, she was so frightened that she told a friend of hers about Salamatu’s intention.
Regina Nana Adwoa Arthur, 24, with a month old baby, was also approached with an offer of GH¢60 in exchange of her son while Janet Maame Abena Timaa, 19, with a three-month old baby was also approached with an offer of GH¢100 in exchange of her daughter.
Adwoa Arthur said she was approached by Salamatu while she was with a traditional birth attendant and she insisted to pay her bills in exchange of her baby and as well give her an additional amount of GH¢60,which she blatantly refused.
Meanwhile, Salamatu who dresses like a married Muslim woman, speaks Ewe very fluently but insists she is a Burkinabe who only schooled at Ho, the capital of the Volta Region.
She told the police during interrogation she had a child from her previous marriage but since she re-married some six years ago, she has not been able to conceive, a situation that has resulted in the near collapse of her marriage. She therefore feigned the pregnancy in order to save her marriage.
She indicated that she had informed her husband who had traveled abroad that she is eight months pregnant with the intention that she would buy Serwaa’s baby and act as though she had delivered before her husband returned from his trip abroad.
The girls said they were scared that their children could be used for sakawa rituals since rumors of such stories are all over their residence.
“I do not understand why she does not like children of six months and above but only day-old babies to three months old,” Lydia, one of the girls said.
Source: Daily Guide
Monday July 20, 2009 12:08 PM
Ghanaians have been asked to collectively work towards pre-empting what has now come to be christened 'Baby Harvesting', new phenomenon of human trafficking currently going on in Nigeria.
Baby Harvesting is the act of luring teenage girls who are economically challenged to cities in the name of adoption according to Mr. Eric Boakye Peasah, the Counter-trafficking Field Manager of the International Organization for Migration (I0M).
Mr. Peasah explained that these unsuspecting girls are usually kept in homes where men are arranged to have sexual intercourse repeatedly with them until they get pregnant. He explained further that the girls are usually provided with antenatal care until they give birth after which the babies are plucked from these unfortunate girls who are then paid off.
"It has not yet occurred in Ghana but once it is happening in Nigeria we must all take steps to forestall it in this country," he told stakeholders at the launching of a Legal Resources Centre (LRC) capacity building for law enforcement officers and victim service providers in Trafficking in Persons in Accra.
He revealed that a group of swindlers has been busted in Nigeria for engaging in 'Baby Harvesting' which must serve as warning signs to Ghanaians.
Also happening in Nigeria, Mr. Peasah further disclosed, is the mind boggling act known as 'Touching'. With these adults without any modicum of conscience turn themselves into 'gynaecologists' and examine the private parts of girls. Those who are found with 'suitable' genitals are adopted and when they grow to become teenagers, they are pushed into prostitution.
He called on all stakeholders to co-operate and co-ordinate their activities since one institution can not do all; to this end he advised the LRC to concentrate on the legal aspects of human trafficking and leave the rest to other players in the industry.
He observed that in Ghana, the major sources of human trafficking are places like Amuna, Ekum Mpuano in the Central Region and Kokrobite, Awhiam and old Ningo in the Greater Accra Region. He called on District Assemblies to mainstream the combating of human trafficking into their activities since that could be one of the effective ways of dealing with the menace.
Justice Rose C. Owusu, a Supreme Court Judge, observed that "it is not enough fighting drug trafficking and that it should be uprooted."
This he believes can be achieved through education.
Justice Sophia Adinyira, also of the Supreme Court, noted that intra human trafficking in Ghana is worse than cross-border trafficking with children being trafficked from some towns in the Central Region to the cities.
Mr. Matthew Dally, a former Head of the International Labour Organizations, Anti-Child Trafficking Programme in West and Central Africa, who chaired the function, said according to the United States.
Traffic in Persons Report released in June 2009, Ghana has dropped from Tier one to Tier two due to weak efforts in prosecuting offenders and inadequate victim support and care.
He called on stakeholders to build skills in case detection, investigations and prosecution, ensure tight border controls, engage in cross-border training, international cooperation and networking through INTERPOL as well as ensuring inter-agency collaboration among the police, the judiciary, immigration and the Ministry of Justice.
Unveiling the Capacity Building Project, the Executive Director of the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), Mr. Tuinese Edward Amuzu, recalled that in December 2005, Ghana marked an important milestone in human rights when the country promulgated the Human Trafficking Law which prohibits various forms of trafficking in persons, and makes provision for five years imprisonment upon conviction.
While admitting the law is an epoch making one, he concedes that it is not perfect.
"Ghana does not fully comply with the Act's minimum standards but is making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with those standards." He said it is for this and other reasons that the LRC is embarking on the capacity building exercise with funding from the United States Department of State.
Credit: Ebenezer Hanson (Public Agenda/Ghana)
Thursday July 16, 2009 2:34 PM
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that US$32 billion is generated annually from human trafficking worldwide.
This has made human trafficking one of the fastest-growing illegal businesses after arms and drugs.
The Director-General of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP) Frank Adu-Poku, made this known in Accra yesterday at the opening of a workshop on counter-trafficking in human beings and other related crimes for detectives at the CID headquarters. The four-day workshop is being funded by the UNICEF.
He said human trafficking had become a growing concern throughout the world today and no country was exempted, saying, “Ghana is known as an origin, a transit and a destination country as far as human trafficking is concerned.”
Mr Adu-Poku said human trafficking was a modern-day form of slavery in which victims were subjected to force, fraud or coercion, for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labour.
He described trafficking in persons as an aspect of irregular or negative migration that had come to the fore as a negative side of globalisation.
According to him, it was regrettable that Ghanaian children had become fisher boys not only in areas around the Volta Lake but faraway in The Gambia, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire and also made to work in stone quarries under hazardous conditions detrimental to their health and total development.
Mr Adu-Poku said governments were stepping up their efforts to address the root causes of human trafficking and develop counter measures.
He said it was in line with this that the Police Administration was collaborating with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to provide tailor-made training programmes for personnel of the police service to nip the social menace in the bud.
The Director of the Organised Crime Unit (OCU) of the CID, Superintendent Sarfo Agyemang, reminded the personnel to take all training programmes seriously because it would come in handy when they were posted to the regions and districts.
Credit Albert K. Salia, Daily Graphic
Thursday July 16, 2009 12:57 PM
For trafficking their nationals for prostitution, three Chinese nationals were yesterday sentenced to a total of 39 years’ imprisonment in hard labour by an Accra Circuit Court.
The court found the ringleader, James Xu Jin, his wife, Chou Xiou Ying, and Sam Shan Zifan, James's younger brother, guilty of recruiting, transporting and harbouring the victims for prostitution.
James was sentenced to 17 years’ imprisonment, while Chou and Sam were sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment each.
James was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment on the charge of conspiracy and 15 years on the charge of human trafficking, while his wife was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and 10 years’ imprisonment on the charges of conspiracy and human trafficking, respectively.
Sam was jailed two years for conspiracy and 10 years for abetment. Their sentences are to run consecutively.
Delivering its judgement in Accra yesterday, the trial judge, Mrs Elizabeth Ankomah, held that the prosecution had proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused persons acted together to recruit, transport and harbour the girls for prostitution and slammed their defence that they were running a restaurant.
It held that the girls, who were eight in number, were “reduced to the state of slavery” by James and Chou who had deceived the girls into believing that they (girls) were to assist in running a restaurant business in Accra, only for their passports to be seized and for them to be forced into prostitution on arrival.
The court ordered the deportation of the convicts after serving their terms. It also revoked James’s resident permit and further ordered that his assets should be confiscated to the state.
It also ordered that the $14,560 which was found in James’s house on February 14, 2009, the day of his arrest, must be paid into the human trafficking fund and part must be used to pay the amounts James owed the victims.
According to the court, the victims were recruited from Harbin, a city in China, under the guise that they were to assist Jin and Chou to run a restaurant in Accra for a monthly salary of $500 but on arrival in Ghana they were forced into prostitution.
It said James exploited the poor victims whom he claimed owed him for their airfare and other transport arrangements, seized their passports and also ordered them to pay a penalty of $50 a day anytime they refused to offer sex.
The court further held that James misled officials of the Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC) and the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) and managed to get documentation to stay in the country to run his prostitution business and not a restaurant, as he had made those institutions to believe.
According to the court, from the totality of the evidence, a tour of the brothel called Peach Blossom Palace and from the evidence of neighbours, it was clearly evident that James and Chou did not run a restaurant, as they had indicated to the court.
It further stated that the names of two restaurants which were registered by James existed on paper only to deceive the GIPC and the GIS, adding that it also found that James and Chou saddled the victims with debts to further exploit them.
The court said it was also obvious that the debt owed by the victims forced them into a state of vulnerability, adding that it was also evident that the victims were put under bondage by the convicts.
It also held that there was overwhelming evidence to the effect that Sam helped James and Chou and acted as the interpreter for the victims and their clients who were mostly Indians, Chinese and Lebanese.
The court found that there was abundant evidence to prove that Sam sometimes drove the victims to meet their clients, opened gates for men to enter the palace, among others, and added that he “aided, facilitated, carried, promoted the act of trafficking and was paid $600 a month”.
An investigative journalist, Mr Anas Aremeyaw Anas, whose seven-month investigations led to the arrest of the accused persons on February 14, 2009, also gave evidence on the activities of the accused persons and produced video and audio tapes on their activities.
Counsel for the convicts, Mr B.O.K. Johnson, said he was yet to receive instructions from his clients on whether or not to appeal against the conviction.
Credit Mabel Aku Baneseh, Daily Graphic
Wednesday July 15, 2009 5:03 PM
JUDGE STORMS BROTHEL
An Accra circuit court judge, Justice Elizabeth Ankomah, together with a team of journalists, prosecutors, lawyers and clerks, yesterday visited the Peach Blossom Palace, the brothel the allege Chinese human traffickers used to operate their sexual trade.
This followed a request from ASP Mary Agbozo, the prosecutor in the case that the court visited the Palace to ascertain whether it was a restaurant as indicated by the accused persons in their defence.
Upon arrival at La, behind the Labadi police Station where the Palace is located, the team inspected the whole building which contained six rooms and a hall. Two of the rooms were reserved for the girls, one room for James Xu Jin the alleged ringleader and Chow Xiou Ying, his brother, another for Sam Shan Xin, his wife, while the remaining two rooms were allegedly used to host his clients who patronized the services of the Chinese girls.
There was also a kitchen which contained a single room reserved for the driver. The air conditioned rooms of the victims contained ten student beds and some of the items found in the two rooms included a number of condoms, contraceptives, some medications, cosmetics such as lipstick and eyebrow pencils as well as complimentary cards. However, the was no menu chart which outlined the food they served as indicated by the accused persons. The team visited some residents in the vicinity to interview them on the activities that went on in the brothel, more specifically whether indeed the accused persons operated a restaurant in which they sold Chinese fast food.
In response, the many people spoken to denied knowledge of any restaurant, but agreed that the girls were living in the house. They also stated that there was nothing to like the selling of fast food in the house, revealing that sometimes the girls rather returned with their own “take away”.
The land lady who confirmed that she rented the house to the accused person at a cost of GHC 350 per month disclosed that the gate was usually locked therefore restricting people especially blacks from entering. It is the prosecutions case that James Xu Jin, the alleged ringleader of the human trafficking team deceived the Ghana Export Promotion Centre (GIPC). Immigration Service and the Registrar General’s Department to believe he had a restaurant which enabled him to him to obtain a certificate he used to lure the girls to Ghana for sexual exploitation.
According to the prosecution, James and Sam Shan, the couple, transported the victims from China while Chow Xiou Ying, the brother of James sent them to their respective clients.
ASP Agbozo therefore maintained that the accused persons never had a restaurant but what they claimed to be the restaurant was the brothel they used for their sex business.
The accused persons, James Xu Jin, Sam Shan Jin, and Chow Xiou Ying who through an interpreter pleaded not guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit crime and human trafficking, have consistently told the court that they operated a restaurant in Ghana . James Xu Jin, in his evidence, stated that he started the restaurant in March, 2008 with his wife and brother as the only operators, adding that he even had a menu chart indicating the food they sold. He denied under cross- examination that the drink found in the fridge were used to serve clients of the girls and not customers who visited his restaurant as alleged by the prosecution. Sam also stated that they sold Chinese fast foods and that on a good day, they had about 10 white customers visiting the place to eat, when the judge asked her about the average number of customers they have in a day.
Earlier, the defence called in their first witness, Pan Jiansong, a restaurant operator at Tabora, who told the court that he was a customer of the accused persons and that he always visited their restaurant to eat rice and chicken. According to him, James had introduced the victims to him as his wife’s friends looking for jobs in Ghana, adding that he had on several occasions met them at the La Palm Casino happy.
During cross-examination the witness who revealed that he had visited the restaurant for about 20 times stated that he always enjoyed his meals at the hall.
He however denied being a customer to the girls. When asked by the prosecutor whether the house he often visited looked like a restaurant to him, he stated that in China, a lot of restaurants look like that of the accused persons. Chow Xiou Ying, also under cross-examination, denied telling the police in his caution statement that the victims were into prostitution. Chow, who said he worked as a cook in his brother’s restaurant, denied opening doors for clients to sleep with victims as well as sending the victims to their clients at hotels for a monthly salary of $600. He however agreed with prosecution that he once took Tintin, an 18- year old victim, to a hotel to meet a male friend but denied that $100 given to him by the said man was for payment of Tintin’s services.
He agreed with prosecution that he was an interpreter between the girls and their customers but indicated that he did that in restaurant only, when a customer wants to say hello to the girls.
Credit Mary Anane, Daily Guide.
Tuesday July 14, 2009 8:04 PM
The president of the United States of America has acknowledge the work of DSP Patience Quaye the head of the Anti Human trafficking Unit of the Ghana police service on his maiden visit to sub-Saharan Africa as the president of the United States. In a speech delivered by the president before parliament he said on countless occasions Ghanaians have shown the spirit of exemplary leadership and commended Anas Aremeyaw Anas of the Crusading Guide for risking his life to report the truth.
“We see it in police like Patience Quaye, who helped prosecute the first human trafficker in Ghana” The president said amidst applause from the audience.