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Cabinet has given the approval for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration to open a Consulate in Tripoli, Libya to re-establish Ghana’s presence in that country to oversee the welfare of resident Ghanaians in addition to any pertinent bilateral engagements.
Permission has also been granted to establish a Consulate in Niger, which is one of the main routes used by the migrants who travel by road across the desert through towns like Agadez and Madama to Libya.
Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, announced these when she presented a statement on the floor of Parliament on the alleged sale of African migrants as slaves in Tripoli and other parts of Libya.
Hon. Botchwey disclosed that a five-member fact finding team was constituted with membership from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ministry of the Interior, the Research Department and the Ghana Immigration Service who visited Libya from the 5th to 10th of February 2018.
Concerning the involvement of Ghanaians in the trafficking and exploitation of other Ghanaians, the team learnt that Ghanaian nationals had set camps along the routes across the desert where they exploited and trafficked fellow Ghanaians.
According to the team, during the course of the journey, those who were unable to afford transport cost from one point to the other were handed over to “Ghetto leaders” who are mostly Ghanaians.
When a migrant is handed over to the Ghetto leaders, according to the team, the trafficked person would be made to call his family back home in Ghana to settle the indebtedness, after which the migrant would be released to continue the journey.
When there is a delay in the settlement of the migrant’s debt, the team said, the migrant was tortured and the abusive act video-recorded and sent home to his family.
However, where a migrant was unable to settle his/her indebtedness, the team said, he/she is sent to Ben Wahlid, another city in Southern Libya and, in collaboration with some Libyan nationals, offered for sale to those in need of cheap labour.
While in Libya, the team said, it interviewed 72 inmates from six detention camps in various parts of Tripoli.
According to the team, the inmates said they had been arrested and detained for various offences including: entering Libya illegally, possession of fake documents including fake Ghanaian passports, attempting to embark on the perilous voyage across the Mediterranean to Europe or arrested on the high seas.
Then team said it had, subsequently, issued Travel Certificates to all the 72 identified Ghanaians, while the Mission in Valleta was liaising with the International Organization on Migration (IOM) office in Tripoli to ensure their repatriation to Ghana as soon as possible.
Hon. Botchwey concluded with a stern note of caution to those involved in human trafficking and the exploitation of Ghanaians to mend their ways and make the necessary amends since the curve of justice was certainly turning against them.
She advised those who had plans to undertake such perilous journeys to abandon such plans.
Source: ISD (Eva Frempon-Ntiamoah)