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Thursday, 25 October, 2001, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
West Africa moves against slavery
Child labourer
About 200,000 children are involved in slavery in central and west Africa every year
The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) has agreed to take urgent action to eradicate the scourge of human trafficking.

child worker
Two in five African children are estimated to be working

At the end of a two-day meeting in the capital of Ghana, Accra, the 15-member grouping pledged to stiffen laws and policing.

The draft plan, if approved at an Ecowas heads of state meeting in December, will commit member countries to enact laws to criminalise human trafficking.

The United Nations estimates that about 200,000 children are involved in the trade in central and west Africa every year.

Public awareness

The meeting was organised by Ecowas and the UN office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention.

The draft plan also called for the development of special police units to combat the problem and for public awareness campaigns aimed at potential victims.

Delegates included officials from the law and interior ministries of the concerned countries as well as immigration and border officials.

The conference heard calls to ratify the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and human trafficking.

See also:

31 May 00 | Africa
Slavery investigation wins award
02 Oct 01 | Business
US to act on cocoa slavery
17 Apr 01 | Africa
'Slave ship' timeline
16 Apr 01 | Africa
West Africa's 'little maids'
06 Aug 99 | Africa
West Africa's child slave trade
10 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Benin
28 Sep 00 | Africa
The bitter taste of slavery
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