UNODC supports the development of a new draft law in Ghana on smuggling of migrants 

Funded by the Government of Canada

Prior to 2012, Ghana did not have specific legislation on migrant smuggling. Prosecutions were held on grounds of the 2005 Human Trafficking Act and the Criminal Offences Act 1960. Contrary to the approach followed in respect to trafficking in persons, Ghana has not adopted a comprehensive law on migrant smuggling. As a matter of fact, the legal framework to address this crime and related conduct is scattered through various pieces of legislation, often contradictory in nature, making prosecutions cumbersome and difficult.

In light of this, in June 2018, UNODC started to support Ghana in examining the compliance of its national legal framework with the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) terms and the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants. The aim of this legal review was to identify potential gaps in the national legislation, as well as challenges and technical assistance needs in order to effectively combat smuggling of migrants (SoM). This first legal review assessment was composed of 24 participants, of which 8 were women.

This prior assessment then served as a basis during a consultation workshop that took place in Accra, Ghana, in October 2018. The workshop, funded by the Canadian Government, gathered stakeholders to reach an understanding of the international mechanisms of cooperation in criminal matters related to SoM abuses. One of the main recommendations taken during this gathering was that Ghana needed to reinforce its legal framework by drafting a new law on SoM. This time, the consultation workshop reunited a total of 29 participants, of which 11 were women.

To follow-up on this meeting, UNODC led a legislative drafting workshop in December 2018, during which a specific working group, assisted by UNODC experts, was able to establish a first draft of a new law on smuggling of migrants. This result is a milestone towards enhancing Ghana's legal framework and thus its response to crimes related to smuggling of migrants. The working group in charge of drafting the new legislation was composed of 11 members including 5 women.

Legislative working group members alongside UNODC international legal expert holding up the first draft of the smuggling of migrants law

Understandably, the draft law presented in December 2018 by the legislative working group and the UNODC experts is an important achievement and its results are expected to reverse the phenomenon in the country in due time. 

Finally, UNODC's support to develop Ghana's legal framework is in line with the development of UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), in particular Goal 10 which aims to "Facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, through the implementation of planned and well-managed policies", as well as Goal 16 which wishes to "Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal justice for all", including justice for the rights of smuggled migrants. Also, the important representation of woman in each of the successive activities that led to the drafting of this new project law demonstrates UNODC's commitment to SDG 5, dedicated to ensuring "women's full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life".

For more information:

Definitions and tools on human trafficking and migrant smuggling

UNODC Regional Strategy for Combating Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants 2015-2020

UN Sustainable Development Goals