The Member of Parliament (MP) for Afram Plains North, in the Eastern Region, Hon. Betty Nana Efua Crosby Mensah has registered a strong protest on the floor of the August House concerning an International Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), known as International Justice Mission, whose activities the MP deem as unlawful in her jurisdiction.
The angry lawmaker, in a statement on the floor of Parliament, dubbed “The abuse of the rights of our children under the misconception of rescuing them from child labor/child trafficking” said some communities in her constituency, such as Digya and Dwarf Island located on the Volta Lake, only means of transportation is by the lake.
For this reason, according to her, children at very young ages are trained on how to swim and survive, especially in a situation where there is a boat wreck.
On one of such days, Hon. Betty Mensah stated that, when some of her constituents were on their daily routine, some members of an International NGO called International Justice Mission in the company of a team of armed police officers raided the waters surrounding the Dwarf Island and took away families who were on the lake for reasons of travelling, accompanying their parents, or brothers to fish, and for other economic reasons.
She said, she was at a loss upon hearing the raid on her constituents, and as the MP for the area, she was not informed by the NGO about their intention and what activities of the people were deemed at the time, as child labor or child abuse.
According to her, the children that the so called NGO raided, many of whom are in school, are being detained at places unknown to both parents and stakeholders under the guise of rescuing them.
The MP pointed out that, what baffles the constituents, was why the NGO should do the raid when schools were on vacation.
“Schools have reopened now and these children are expected back in school but they are nowhere to be found,” she told Parliament.
She was of the view that, the role played by families in the bringing up of children, shaping up their characters and its eventual consequences on the society cannot be replaced by these NGOs.
She however admitted that, the contributions of these NGOs to the society cannot be dispute, and cannot even disputed their deliberate approach of indirectly “deculturalizing” the society by systematically stripping off our ancestral valves, beliefs, lifestyles and heritage whilst replacing them with Western cultures and beliefs of which many are seen as immoral and decayed.
The visible angry lawmaker, obviously unhappy about the way and manner the International Justice Mission is treating the future leaders of her constituents, said “ We cannot continue to be prisoners of popular misconception about this important and over-reaching human rights. The laws of Ghana do not permit any person(s) or organization to walk into poor homes and abduct their children simply because they dare to risk for survival.”
Hon. Betty Mensah continued, “Mr. Speaker, the need for putting in place pre-emptive measures, including enacting laws to protect citizens and their children from arbitrary detention by NGOs without due process in the name of Child Labor is more urgent.”
She also maintained that “It is very important that enough study is undertaken by technocrats before the formulation of policies so that whilst we protect ourselves, we don’t lose the very essence of our being.”
The lawmaker has therefore requested the August House and the Ministry responsible for Gender, Children and Social Protection to demand for the immediate release of the detained children so they can go back to school.