James Kofi anan
James Kofi Annan

James Kofi Annan has been nominated to become the WCP Decade Child Rights Hero 2020, for his work to combat child slavery in the fishing industry on Lake Volta in Ghana.

James Kofi Annan was commended with the 2013 World’s Children’s Prize. James himself was a fishing slave as a child, for seven years. He managed to escape, get an education and become a bank manager. Six years ago he left the bank to work solely to stop child slavery.


James, who was himself traf­ficked as a child and worked as a slave for seven years with a fisherman, campaigns for chil­dren who are forced into slavery in the fishing industry. Parents living in poverty often borrow money from slave traders, who take their children when they can’t pay the loan back. Despite child slavery being against the law in Ghana, it is thought that there are almost 250,000 trafficked children working as slaves, and 1.3 million child labourers in the country.


James believes that poverty, which is the basis of slavery, can only be tackled with education. Trafficked children who have been rescued come to James’ organisation Challenging Heights’ sheltered home first, where the children are given support to process their difficult experiences. When they feel better, they are reunited with their families. Poor mothers are given an education and loans so their children don’t end up in slavery.


Challenging Heights has rescued over 1,000 trafficked children. They have room for 120 children in the sheltered home, and they run a school for 700 children. James and Challenging Heights have supported more than 15,000 children who have been slaves, or who are at risk of being enslaved. Through radio programs, thousands of vulner­able children get to learn about their rights.


Goal 3: Good health and well-being. Goal 4: Every child’s right to a quality education. Goal 8: Decent work. Goal 16: A stop to forced labour, child slavery, assaults and violence against children.

Text: Eva-Pia Worland
Photos: Bo Öhlen

The facts and figures on this page were accurate at the time of writing, in 2013

The children are older now! The texts are taken from when the Child Rights Hero was an award recipient. The children featured in the texts are therefore older today.


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