Ghana Law Lecturer Advocates Legislation on Sustainable Cocoa Supply Chain
Mr Clement Kojo Akapame, a Consultant at TaylorCrabbe Initiative, has advocated effective enforcement of human rights and child labour laws towards ensuring sustainable cocoa supply chain.
He noted that internationally, countries were requiring producer countries to meet certain benchmarks such as; avoiding human rights abuses in the supply chain and avoiding child labour.
“The global picture now requires private companies to undertake measures to respond to these international requirements; if we respect our domestic laws, we will be meeting these international standards and will be able to access these markets”, he added.
Mr Akapame said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Accra, on the sidelines of a Cocoa and Human Rights Seminar, organised by Forest Trends and EcoCare Ghana.
Poverty and child labour in the cocoa sector have been major issues of international concern for the past 10 years.
A number of voluntary initiatives have been launched to tackle these problems- but there are a host of deeper governance issues that must be addressed for these initiatives to make an impact.
The seminar was, therefore, aimed at creating a common understanding of the legal and governance framework in Ghana regulating the cocoa sector, and based on this, discuss how any demand-side (EU) regulation could leverage the changes needed to ensure cocoa production was legal and did not support child labour, slavery and deforestation.
Mr Akapame, who is also a law lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), noted that a review of existing reports had shown that there was a steady rise in the child labour reports despite on-going interventions.
He said these implied that broader discussions were needed particularly highlighting whether there was a will power to enforce what Ghana put in its various pieces of legislation; and whether its institutions were well resourced to undertake the enforcement mechanisms should they arise.
Mr Akapame told GNA that on the other hand, sometimes there could be a certain margin of error in the reports.
“We need to go beyond the reports, some of these children are not working, they are on the farms with their parents; so there is a need to have a system that helps to record what exactly defines child labour, according to the law”, he added.
Mr Akapame said private sector companies and operators were taking steps themselves to help clean up their supply chains from human right abuses and child labour, saying, they had made commitments because internationally they were placing certain indirect burdens on them.
Madam Jade Saunders, a Senior Policy Analyst at Forest Trends, also told the GNA that the forum focused on Ghana’s laws around the protection of labourers in the cocoa sector, particularly child labour.
She said this was to understand how they could fit together with what was being designed in Europe, so that partly regulations were being designed at the national level to make companies in Europe who were buying products overseas responsible for the protection of human rights in their supply chain.
“So, we want to speak to a group of Ghanaians who understand the legal context here, see whether the laws on the books in Ghana reflect the social environment for priorities of Ghanaians and to ensure European regulations do not counter those priorities”, she added.
Madam Patience Olesu-Adjei, Campaigner for EcoCare Ghana, underscored the need to have initiatives, where cocoa production in Ghana would be defined in a legal means, implying, it satisfies human right laws.
She said the key point about these deliberations targeted the European Union (EU) laws; the EU regulations on human rights in the cocoa sector, adding that “we do not want to have those laws ready before we try to tune our sector to meet those laws, but rather being proactive”.