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Paul Manafort Sentenced To 47 Months In Prison; Trump Admin Hopeful For Denuclearization In First Term; U.S. General: Threat From ISIS Is Far From Over; Minister Responds to CNN Film Exposing Forced Labor in Ghana; Interview with Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Ghana's Information Minister; British Royal Family Fights Online Abuse against Markle; "Brave Girl Rising". Aired 1-2a ET

Aired March 8, 2019 - 01:00   ET



[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: From campaign manager to inmate. The man who helped Donald Trump get to the White House is going to prison, but only for a fraction of the time, prosecutors say he should serve. Saudi Arabia as human rights sparkle in the spotlight again. Three dozen countries teaming up to condemn the Kingdom for the first time.

Plus, taking all the trolls. Online attacks against Meghan Markel on the rise, the royal family is trying to protect the Duchess. Hello, welcome to our viewers all around the world. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Donald Trump's former campaign chairman is going to prison, not for 25 years as prosecutors wanted but he will spend at least the next three years behind bars. A federal judge sentenced Manafort on Thursday for bank and tax fraud 47 months with nine months credit for time served. Manafort will also activate at least $6x million in restitution to the U.S. government. CNN's Shimon Prokupecz has more.


SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Paul Manafort received 47 months in prison much lower than their recommendation of prosecutors who had asked the judge for 19 to 24 years. The judge calling the sentencing guidelines out of whack, gave Manafort nearly four-year prison term.

Now, Manafort, he spoke briefly telling the judge how prayer and faith have helped him get through this time and ask the judge to be compassionate. He told the judge that the last two years have been the most difficult years for his family and him.

And the judge said that he thought the sentencing recommendation was, in fact, excessive adding that he believed Manafort lived the otherwise blameless life, was a good friend and generous person to others before he handed down the sentence.

Now, Manafort, he's due back in court next week in D.C. for a separate case where he's expected to get up to ten years in prison. Shimone Prokupecz, CNN Washington.

VAUSE: Jessica Levinson is a Professor of Law at Loyola Law School and she joins us now from Los Angeles. Jessica, good to see you.


VAUSE: OK, it's very rare for prosecutors to appeal a sentence. But given the 15-year gap between you know, the sentence that was handed out and the loss end of the guidelines, do they have a case here or do you think they'll wait and see what happens in that second sentencing hearing next week?

LEVINSON: I think they're going to wait and see what happens in the D.C. sentencing that will happen next week. And -- but I think there's no doubt that this is obviously way below the sentencing guidelines and way below what the prosecutors asked, and frankly way below what this judge has given in other cases that we could argue are far less serious.

I mean, CNN reported this as a shocking sentence and I think that that is absolutely the way to describe it. We have Paul Manafort described as having an otherwise less life. And yet if you look at what he has been accused of, pled guilty to, and convicted of, it tells a very different story.

VAUSE: Yes. That otherwise blameless life will be sentenced for you know, for witness tampering and conspiracy next week. Judge Ellis, he was nominated by Ronald Reagan, a conservative and during this trial, Ellis continually badgered the prosecution you know, from the Mueller team. Here's part of a report from The Washington Post back in August.

Ellis was said to the prosecutors, you don't really care about Mr. Manafort's bank fraud. You really care about getting information Mr. Manafort can give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump and lead to his prosecution or impeachment.

Ellis also accused Mueller's office of trying to turn the screws and get the information you really want. The comments earned quick praise from Trump. I've been saying that for a long time. It's a witch hunt.

You know, in line o this lenient sentence, do those comments come into play here? Are there any red flags there?

LEVINSON: Well, so there's red flags to the extent that -- I mean, I think you and I actually talked about at the time. I mean, this was a judge who was let's say kind of euphemistically crotchety, that he was giving the prosecutors a hard time, that he was making statements that frankly I think shouldn't have been made in a courtroom regarding what the prosecutors were really after here.

But was he -- I mean, were these statements problematic to the level that we think he couldn't carry out his duties, I would say that is an extremely high bar and I don't think we were anywhere near that. Now we've talked a lot about federal judges. They have an enormous

amount of discretion. And again, these sentencing guidelines are just that. There's no mandatory minimums and a judge can basically decide -- I mean if the judge wanted to come down for the bench, give Paul Manafort a bear hug and say it sounds like you feel really sorry about this, go on with your life, that's within the judge's discretion to do so.

VAUSE: Well, Lawrence Tribe professor of law at Harvard University tweeted this. Judge Ellis' assessment that Manafort led an otherwise blameless life is proof that he's unfit to serve on the federal bench. I've rarely been more disgusted by a judge transparently preferential treatment to a rich white guy who betrayed the law the nation.

A civil sentiment too from Democrat Senator and presidential contender Democrat Elizabeth Warren. She tweeted, Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort commits bank and tax fraud gets 47 months. A homeless man's Fate Winslow helped sell $20 of pot but life in prison. The words above the Supreme Court say equal justice under the law. When will we start acting like it?

So the anger in this shock here of this entity goes way beyond you know, any sort of similar of your know, political politics here. It seems to be widespread.

LEVINSON: It does, and I think for entirely understandable reasons. I mean, I will say that I made a prediction that Paul Manafort was going to be seeing something around 20 years and you know, I don't just have egg on my face, I have an omelet on my face. And I don't think that people really suspected this.

And I think that what we're looking at here is a judge who again has looked at a 37-year-old woman who was dealing methamphetamines and gave her 40 years in prison and said something like well, I kind of chafe at this but I have to carry out my duties.

Now, I -- you know we can think of a lot of reasons why these two situations were treated differently but I do think that this is a problematically low sentence. However, I would say as a bit of caution. I think it is far more problematic if we start to go into federal courtrooms and second guest judges and or take this as a systemic problem in the judicial system.

There's a reason that judges aren't elected. There's a reason that they have lifetime appointments and it's because I still think more often than not it's better to take popular will out of the courtroom.

VAUSE: I get -- you know, I'm not sure if Manafort you know, with this sentencing probably you know, end up dying in jail. The only way that will happen I guess is if he's hit by a bus at some point. Manafort's attorney came out made a brief statement after the sentence was announced. This is what he said.


KEVIN DOWNING, LAWYER OF PAUL MANAFORT: As you heard in court today, Manafort finally got to speak for himself and made clear he accepts responsibility for his conduct. And I think most importantly what you saw today is the same thing that we had said from day one. There's absolutely no evidence that Paul Manafort was involved any collusion with any government official from Russia.


VAUSE: That's the only comment he made on camera, no Russia collusion. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff says it's no accident. Manafort's lawyer basically repeated the president's mantra of no collusion. Schiff believes it's a deliberate appeal to the president for a pardon.

You know -- because even before this trial began, Judge Ellis banned any discussion of Russia. It was a pre-trial motion. There was no talk of Russia, no talk of collusion. So you know, is there any other conclusion which can be drawn from the statement made by Manafort's lawyer other than the fact that it is effective plea for pardon.

LEVINSON: Well, it's a plea for a pardon or it's a very -- it's a very conveniently consistent message with the president. I would also say, I think it's a bizarre statement to make as an attorney who has a duty to advocate for your client. It's like having a client who's found guilty of assault and saying well, yes. And I just want to make sure that everyone knows this has nothing to deal with grand theft auto.

I mean this is what -- Paul Manafort was not tried on any of those charges. So I think to the extent that it is so unrelated to what Paul Manafort was sentenced to, yes, I mean it can be seen as basically an open letter to the president. But again, for your -- for your viewers to remember, Paul Manafort could be pardoned for these federal crimes and still potentially face certain state crimes which he cannot be pardoned from.

VAUSE: Yes. Very quickly, we're almost out of time, but will this sentence you know, being incredibly lenient as it is, will have any impact on what the judge in Washington does next week?

LEVINSON: Well -- so I think we can answer this two ways. One is the judge in D.C. the judge in Washington is going to make an independent determination. The second is judges are humans. They know exactly what happens in the news. And to the extent that the D.C. judge is on the fence, I think that this could just bump up the sentence that Paul Manafort would see in this case.

So again, it's important to remember. He still may be serving a very long sentence. And my guess is it does put some pressure on the D.C. judge to say maybe we should look at at least being within the Sentencing Guidelines, not 75 percent under those guidelines as we saw today.

VAUSE: Yes. I think the recommendation for the Washington case is up to ten years. It could be served concurrently which would give him about 14 years in jail. Maybe. We'll see what happens. Jessica, thank you. LEVINSON: Thank you,

VAUSE: And Donald Trump's personal attorney, former personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen is suing the Trump Organization for almost $4 million in unpaid legal fees in court imposed fines. Cohen says he incurred some of the expenses while he was still part of a joint defense agreement. But a spokesman for the Trump Organization says Cohen is not owed a penny.

Well, as failed nuclear summit and reports of renewed construction at a missile site, the Trump administration is still hoping for a denuclearize North Korea by the end of next year. Meantime, CNN's Will Ripley reports North Korea propaganda is portraying those failed talks as a success.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Growing questions about North Korea's nuclear and missile program in the wake of last week's failed summit in Vietnam. A South Korean lawmaker tells CNN spy agency NIS is tracking increased movements of transport vehicles around a North Korean missile site. Work is underway to rebuild a launch pad and missile engine test stand at the Sohae Satellite Launch facility.

And what sources say may have derailed talks in Hanoi a secret uranium enrichment plant just outside Pyongyang.

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So it's not surprising to me that we see evidence of them continuing with their nuclear or and/or missile program. That is -- that is the way they generate leverage.

RIPLEY: Analysts say the North Koreans may be looking for leverage after President Trump walked out of his Hanoi summit with Chairman Kim Jong-un something regular North Koreans will never even know. They'll never see this empty table from a working lunch called off, never hear these words from President Trump are not reaching a deal.

TRUMP: Sometimes you have to walk.

RIPLEY: Instead regular North Koreans see this, a carefully edited state T.V. documentary from comrade Kim's triumphant arrival on a bulletproof train to huge crowds lining the streets for a glimpse of his motorcade. Even the moment President Trump called a friendly walk, as far as most North Koreans know it was.

But sources tell CNN Kim's team made a last-ditch attempt to strike a deal with the U.S. offering to dismantle their entire Yongbyon Nuclear Complex in exchange for partial lifting of sanctions just before Trump walked out.

North Korea's Vice foreign minister Choe Son-hui later issued this sharp warning that the U.S. missed a once in a thousand-year opportunity and her chairman may have lost the will to negotiate. A message sources say came directly from Kim himself. But you'd never know any of it watching North Korean T.V. despite the

summit's abrupt and humiliating end. And even as the Trump administration warns of more sanctions if North Korea fails to denuclearize, they're also leaving the door open for a third summit.

JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The President is obviously open to talking again. We'll see one that that might be scheduled or what -- how it would work out. But he thinks the deal is there if North Korea is prepared to look at the big picture.

RIPLEY: A big picture the U.S. says must not include provocative or threatening behavior. Will Ripley, CNN Beijing.


VAUSE: Well, ISIS fighters are surrendering in their hundreds. A senior U.S. general warns that's not the same as giving up. In Eastern Syria, the last slew of their once sprawling caliphate is of the siege and on the brink of collapse. But U.S. general Joseph Votel says many Jihadis is still radicalized, still committed to their sick ideology.


GEN. JOSEPH VOTEL, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: Reduction of the physical Caliphate is a monumental military accomplishment but the fight against ISIS and violent extremism is far from over. Recent observations by our men and women on the ground highlight that the ISIS population being evacuated from the remaining vestiges of the Caliphate largely remain unrepentant, unbroken, and radicalized.


VAUSE: In the past several weeks as us-backed forces surround the last ISIS stronghold, about 30,000 people have fled, many are the wives and children of ISIS fighters. They're likely to end up in temporary camps in the Syrian desert.

Most of Venezuela as been left in the dark after widespread power outage. The government says the main hydropower station was sabotaged by President Nicolas Maduro's political rivals cutting power to about 70 percent of the country. While blackouts are common in Venezuela, an outage of this size and scale is rare.

Well, still to come here, a rare public condemnation of Saudi Arabia on human rights. 36 nations riding an open letter to the kingdom but will Riyadh even bother to respond. Plus, a promised to do from Ghana's government after a CNN special exposes to the horrors of child slavery in the West African nation. Details when we come back.


[01:16:51] VAUSE: The U.K. has given diplomatic protection to a British Iranian woman imprisoned in Iran. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at Tehran's airport in 2016. Charged and later convicted of spying. U.K. Foreign Office says Iran has violated international law with a trial lacking due process. And also, by refusing her medical care.


JEREMY HUNT, SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS, UNITED KINGDOM: My decision is an important diplomatic step, which signals to Tehran that its behavior is totally wrong. It's unlikely to be a magic wand that leads to an overnight result. But it demonstrates to the whole world that Nazanin is innocent and the U.K. will not stand by when one of its citizens has treated so unjustly.


VAUSE: Saudi Arabia has been called out over the murder of journalists Jamal Khashoggi and other human rights abuses. 36 nations -- 36 nations including all of the European Union, signed an open letter calling for the release of jailed women activists in Saudi Arabia.

The letter also in demand that the Kingdom disclose all information about Khashoggi's killing.


HARALD ASPELUND, AMBASSADOR, PERMANENT MISSION OF ICELAND TO THE UNITED NATIONS IN GENEVA: The investigations into the killing must be independent and transparent. Those responsible must be held to account. We call upon Saudi Arabia to disclose all information available and to fully cooperate with all investigations into the killing including the human rights inquiry by the Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial executions.


VAUSE: The CIA has concluded, Khashoggi's killing was carried out on the orders of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the defected ruler of Saudi Arabia, who has denied any role in the death of the Washington Post journalist.

David Kaye is a former attorney with the U.S. State Department. He is now, a professor of International Law at the University of California, Irvine. And he joins us now. David, thank you for coming in. It's good to see you.


VAUSE: OK. So, it's taken the state ordered murder of a journalist, the imprisonment and torture and harassment of human rights activist, many of them women. And the use of counterterrorism laws to crack down on dissent. For the Saudis be actually on the receiving end of an open letter.

A letter which, you know, start by praising the kingdom by acknowledging the spirit of modernization and reform. It's terrifying to think what the Saudi will actually have to do before they were subject of a U.N. resolution.

KAYE: Yes, I think that's true. I mean that this is -- this has been in some respects years in the making. But at the same time, I think I would look at this from the perspective of the fact that for the last nearly six months since the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi in October, there has been a virtual drum beat. An endless stream of stories about Saudi violations of international human rights.

And this statement I think is unprecedented in many ways. It's not a resolution of the Human Rights Council, but it's a major statement it highlights the degree to which the Saudi image now is really seen certainly across Europe as one of serious, serious violation of human rights standards.

VAUSE: Yes, and to be the subject of a U.N. Human Rights resolution, you have to be Israel. I think with that 80 of them I think, but you know, it's another story.

Beyond just condemning -- you know, the human rights record here, the letter actually goes into specifics for Saudi Arabia. They write, "We are particularly concerned about the use of counterterrorism law and other national security provisions against individuals peacefully exercising their rights and freedoms."

So, how important is it that the how part of these violations are called out as well?

[01:20:07] KAYE: So, the how part -- I mean, I think, this is really interesting. I think for one thing, this statement highlights the fact that the Saudis are using counterterrorism laws in order to shut down peaceful dissent.

I mean the statement identifies quite a number of women who -- who've really been engaged in peaceful protest, particularly around the issue of driving. But not only that. And I think the idea that the Saudis can use counterterrorism laws to shut down dissent is really -- is really appalling. And the fact that it's called out here I think is really quite important.

VAUSE: You know, the statement also goes on to call for the release of 10 activists. All of them arrested last year in a crackdown. Loujain al-Hathloul is one of the women on that list. She was especially vocal about the right for women to drive, and against the driving ban on women. Here's part of an op-ed her brother wrote in The Guardian.

"On the day of my sister's arrest, my parent's house was raided by armed men without a warrant. Loujain told us she had been beaten, electrocuted, and sexually harassed. She was attacked by interrogators who tried to take off her clothes, telling her she is a slut. And one of the interrogators was found sitting next to her legs while she was asleep."

In general, the Saudis deny they torture anyone. But you know, whatever. What is odd here is the timing of these arrests. It came just before the crown prince actually introduced reforms to allow women to start driving.

KAYE: It's -- I mean, it's remarkable in many respects. I mean, it's pretty clear that the crown prince doesn't want any dissent. And to the extent that there's any opening, he wants to claim all the credit for it.

But the truth is within Saudi Arabia, there is a very significant amount of pressure for just these kinds of things, just these kinds of openings. And so, the fact that there is this, this sense of shutting down activists.

And also killing journalists like Jamal Khashoggi. I think it's really is demonstrating the fact that well, there is some measure of opening on the economic side, there is really no taste for opening on the political side or even on the side of a peaceful dissent.

And that's something that I think the Europeans and many others around the world are really noticing, and are starting to wake up to in a serious way and this statement I think identifies that.

VAUSE: Yes, you make the good point that you pretty much for what, since bin Salman -- you know, came to powers -- you know, the crown prince. The Saudis and the Crown Prince have been violating human rights almost it will without a peep from anywhere around the world. This is a turning point I guess or a significant moment.

But the reason why they've been able to do this for so long is that the United States in particular has sort of turned a blind eye to all of this. So, now there is a new ambassador heading to Riyadh. And he was grilled by lawmakers on Wednesday. Here's some of the exchange.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: He is reckless, he is ruthless, he has a penchant for escalation for taking high risks confrontational as foreign policy approach, and I think increasingly willing to test the limits of what he can get away with the United States.

GEN. JOHN ABIZAID (RET), NOMINEE, UNITED STATES AMBBASSADOR TO SAUDI ARABIA: Our relationship with Saudi Arabia is bigger than a relationship just with the crown prince. That's all about a nation. It's about a government, it's about a king. It's about the oil minister. It's about many, many nodes of people that are interested in moving the kingdom forward in a better way in the 21st century.


VAUSE: So, that was Senator Rubio basically focusing on -- you know, the unpredictable nature of the Crown Prince bin Salman. And how -- you know, General John Abizaid, he's heading off to Riyadh, how we will handle him.

From what we know about the answers he gave on Capitol Hill, and what we know about the general -- you know, overall, is it a safe bet that the Saudis have little to worry about the new U.S. ambassador heading their way?

KAYE: You know, I think the reason why the Saudis are not that concerned, it shouldn't be that concerned about the new ambassador is that they have a direct line to the White House.

I mean that's -- the bottom line here is that from all the reporting, we know that Jared Kushner has a direct line. Even a kind of a direct text line to the crown prince that the White House is clearly from the last several months of statements coming out of the White House is prepared to defend and protect Saudi Arabia, and particularly the crown prince in the face of all of these real -- I think, credible allegations and obvious cases of human rights violation.

So, in that sense, it doesn't really matter who the American ambassador is. I think, one of the interesting things if we're looking at the situation in Geneva and the Human Rights Council that's so interesting today, is that this was the permanent representative of Iceland.

So, the -- so, Iceland which replaced the United States, which had left the Human Rights Council in a huff last summer has been replaced by Iceland which pursued this statement. It just shows the sort of the backward nature of U.S. policy. But it also shows that once the U.S. left, this kind of undercurrent of distrust of the Saudis and distaste for their methods, I think bubbled to the surface really quickly, and it's something that's reflected all around the world right now.

[01:25:22] VAUSE: Yes, we're out of time. But yes, what -- that's a good point because -- you know the U.S. withdrew from the Human Rights Commission because of our protest over the treatment of Israel, which is fair enough. But continually both anything to do with Saudi Arabia. And now they're gone that's why we're getting some movement here. So, it's hypocrisy at a minimum.

KAYE: Yes.

VAUSE: David, good to see you. Thank you so much.

KAYE: You, too. Thanks a lot, John.

VAUSE: OK. Well, CNN, joining forces with young people worldwide come March 14 for a student-led day of action against modern-day slavery. We're asking people around the globe, "What makes you feel free?" Here is some of the responses we've received so far.


CRAIG KIELBURGER, CO-FOUNDER, WE CHARITY: I think the greatest freedom is when we have the ability to help others achieve their dreams. (INAUDIBLE) can mention right the child of the fundamental right, that the children for right to voice and to create change. We're several thousand young people on that right to create a world without slavery, without trafficking, without child labor, or with every child has the right to be free. MARC KIELBURGER, CO-FOUNDER, WE CHARITY: To me, my freedom is about education. Today, we're celebrating the importance of education. There's plenty, millions of young people around the world who have never went step their foot into the classroom, a majority of it are girls. They were celebrating their right to receive an education.

SIAN LEA, MANAGING DIRECTOR, SHIVA FOUNDATION: Freedom to me is the ability to make choices to be able to choose who I associate with, where I work, where I live, what I do to today. I think, to not have a choice is one of the worst situations to be in, and I'm really pleased that I don't have to ever face that.


VAUSE: Tell the world what makes you feel free. Share your story using the #MyFreedomDay. When we come back, we'll head to Ghana where children have been rescued from child slavery and are getting a new chance at life, and thousands remain trapped. We'll tell you what the government says it plans to do. That's next.

Also, online trolls having the Duchess of Sussex with sexist and racist messages. We'll tell you what the royal family is now doing to fight back.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. Thanks for staying with us. I'm John Vause with an update of our top news stories this hour.

Donald Trump former campaign chairman will spend the next few years behind bars. A federal judge has sentenced Manafort to 47 months in prison for tax and bank fraud. Paul Manafort will also have to pay, at least, $6 million in restitution to the U.S. government.


[01:29:45] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. Thanks for staying with us.

I'm John Vause with an update of our top news stories this hour.

Donald Trump's former campaign chairman will spend the next few years behind bars. A federal judge has sentenced Manafort to 47 months in prison for tax and bank fraud. Paul Manafort will also have to pay at least $6 million in restitution to the U.S. government.

[01:30:04] A senior U.S. general warning that defeating ISIS on the battlefield would not end the threat. At a U.S. House committee, General Joseph Votel testified that the ISIS ideology remains strong even on fighters who have recently surrendered. He says many remain unbroken and radicalized.

Widespread power outage has hit most of Venezuela. The government blames it on sabotage at the main hydropower station which provides 70 percent of the country's energy. Blackouts are common in Venezuela but one this size is rare. In Ghana just $250 will buy you a children -- next to nothing to own a life. Thousands are bought and sold and forced to work in the fishing industry. It's grueling work. It can be fatal.

CNN has been investigating child slavery through our Freedom Project and our film called "TROUBLED WATERS" about the children enslaved in Ghana is now getting a lot of attention even prompting Ghana's government to commit to finding a solution.

CNN's Becky Anderson spoke to Ghana's information minister.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: Can I have a confirmation from you that you acknowledge the severity of this issue and that you are absolutely committed to concrete action to ensure that these children will no longer be slaves and there will not be a problem on Lake Volta going forward?

KOJO OPPONG NKRUMAH, GHANA'S INFORMATION MINISTER: Yes, Becky. The entire world and the people of Ghana, most in particularly the victims of this, have our utmost assurance that it is a matter that, as I started with, breaks our hearts and we're committed to ensuring that the resources that we started became available this year will be improved as the years go by and that we will be able to tackle this problem comprehensively.

We acknowledged the severity and are willing and committed to put the resources behind it, to gather resources we are looking for.

ANDERSON: With respect sir -- you have known about this problem for years. The exploitation of children on the lake is still commonplace. It's still going on.

What is your government doing specifically, concretely to solve this problem?

M1: So first is though, we put in place a number of laws. The anti- human trafficking act. And then subsequent to that its regulations that are responsible to close the loopholes in the legal framework that allows people to deal with this.

Secondly, specifically, we have put in place programs that allow us to rescue and prosecute, rehabilitate and reintegrate the victims.

Last year for example, we rescued a little over 252 children involved in child trafficking in general and a good chunk of which are from this Volta Lake area. We had about 113 convictions of persons who are involved in this exercise.

And then you move to the long-term solutions which tackle the fundamental issues of poverty, ignorance, weak rehabilitation programs that allow, you know, a phenomenal atonements (ph) like this to continue for a while now.

ANDERSON: The film highlights a potential solution, a local government official says he's looking to register all the votes that operate on the lakes so the police can identify cases of child slavery.

And -- I'm going to be emphatic about this. We're talking about thousands of cases of child slavery. It seems like the hold-up, though, is a question of funding. Is that something your government will address and why hasn't that been done to date?

M1: Indeed you would recall that Ghana is just coming out of an IMF program where we had to, as a country, go for bailouts because of our economic challenges in recent years. Our national economy is improving. And resources available to government are also improving.

For the first time this year, we've invested a bit more money into -- into rehabilitating some of even the shelters that receive the rescued children. And some of these programs are being talked about by local government officials. Now we have an opportunity to provide some more funding from government and then loan government access.

Governors already start to committing resources, for example in the 2019 fiscal cycle, as I mentioned. And we expect to commit some more resources to it to fund those intervention programs and get the success that we're looking for.

ANDERSON: Sir, in response to CNN's film, the National Union of Ghana Students is calling for an intensive investigation from your government. Do you acknowledge these numbers? And is that something that you're considering specifically?

M1: Yes. Already the minister for social protection and her team have paid a visit to the Volta Lake area. Hours after the initial documentary aired to get a quick update, you know, on the numbers there and on the number of rescues that are being recorded since the last time that those reports that came in. She has subsequently briefed central government about it.

[01:35:00] And I'm clear in my mind that in the coming weeks you'll see some more updates of the results that we're getting on the ground there.

ANDERSON: CNN would be happy to come back to Ghana and witness and report on those actions if they are carried out. Will we be welcome?

M1: We would like the CNN crew to come back and work with us back on the lake to also examine that first time some of the efforts that we are putting into dealing with a situation like this. We all have to raise necessary awareness and so we're very happy to have you on board as part of the solutions.


VAUSE: And if you missed that documentary, you have another chance to see it in just a few hours from now. It's called "TROUBLED WATERS". It airs 10:30 this morning in London. That's 6:30 tonight in Hong Kong. And you'll see it only early here on CNN. Still to come here, the online freaks and cows are increasingly

targeting the Duchess of Sussex with their nasty and ugly attacks. But only now the royal family is fighting back. Ahead a CNN investigation into the racist and sexist trolls targeting Meghan Markle.


VAUSE: Racist abuse online targeting Meghan Markle has been on the rise ever since she announced her pregnancy. Britain's royal family has had enough. They're now ramping up their social media staff blocking or deleting derogatory comments against the Duchess of Sussex.

CNN's Max Foster has more.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One of the most talked about women of our time, a fashion icon --

MEGAN MARKLE, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: The winner this evening is Claire Wig Keller.

FOSTER: -- and role model, earning her this homage from pop royalty. The Duchess of Sussex bringing something completely new to the very top of the British establishments.

Yet, from the moment their relationship became public, Prince Harry and former American actress, Meghan Markle, detected racial and sexist undertones in parts of the press. There were the references to the duchess's rich and exotic DNA. How her family had gone from cotton slaves to royalty. And this piece suggesting the Los Angeles native was almost straight out of Compton, a reference to a song by NWA.


FOSTER: The authors of these stories deny racism. But the couple saw underlying prejudice, which they articulated with this palace statement from 2016 calling out the racial undertones of comment pieces and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments.

What the regular members of the royal press pack will tell you is that they're just doing their job, reporting the news without prejudice.

(on camera): And they actually do far more positive stories about Meghan than negative. The problem they say, is when digital news sites pick up on their first-hand reporting and then sensationalize it.

(voice over): A typical example is the ongoing narrative that the Duchess of Sussex is at war with her sister-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge. This is based on just one report at a respected newspaper that Meghan made Kate cry at a bridesmaid dress fitting just before last year's wedding. And even that story is disputed by the palace. The two women have endured constant comparisons.

YOMI ADEGOKE, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Essentially, Kate is no deviation of the norm. She's very much the quintessential British girl-next-door.

FOSTER: Where Kate's now celebrated for wearing an off-the-shoulder dress, Meghan is accused of breaking royal protocol. When Meghan wears dark nail polish, she breaks royal protocol again with vulgar fashion move. The comparisons are as awkward for Kate as they are for Meghan.

ADEGOKE: She's very much what you envision when you think of the word "princess". And you know, , she's white. Whereas someone like Meghan is very much a deviation. She's foreign not just by being American but she's got black heritage. She's a divorcee. She's just a very different type of person and somebody that I don't think your average British member of the public sort of thinks of when they think of the word "duchess" or "royal family" at all.

FOSTER: A CNN royal source accepts the duchesses aren't best friends. They may not hang out or call each other, but they are friendly and they text.

Stories about a rift are just click bait, the source adds. But it's that click bait that online trolls are linking to and using against Meghan.

On Twitter, we investigated the most commonly used anti-Meghan hashtags from the beginning of January to the middle of February. In total, we analyzed 5,204 tweets and discovered 20 accounts were behind 70 percent of the posts.

Their profile descriptions typically contain Meghan-related hashtags, like #megxit, but also political hash tags, such as #Brexit, and #MAGA, Make America Great Again. We don't know how many people are behind the accounts and we found no evidence of a coordinated right- wing campaign against the duchess, but --

PATRICK HERMANSSON, HOPE NOT HATE: Meghan Markle fits into this bigger idea of the West and the U.K. in decline. And here it's symbolized by Meghan who kind of corrupts this old institution of the Buckingham Palace.

FOSTER: CNN has been told the trolling escalated when the duchess announced her pregnancy. That was at the beginning of a high-profile tour of Australia. Palace staff are having to spend more time deleting comments on their social media platforms; also blocking accounts and reporting abuses.

ADEGOKE: There's definitely sort of an unspoken sort of interest in what the baby will look like. And you know, there's been a lot of talk on Twitter not just from racists but also from people that are very pro-Meghan about recessive genes, about whether the baby will have an afro, or the baby will have its mother's nose or these kind of coded conversations happening about what the baby will look like. And it sounds sort of really horrible to think but a lot of people

have offered up the idea that the blacker the baby looks, the worse its treatment will be.

FOSTER: Our royal source tells us they even had to pre-block the N word on Instagram; plus, emojis of knives and guns.


(on camera): It was celebrated as the wedding that united Britain and cemented the American alliance. But it also exposed divisions that a small group of haters are trying to exploit. The royal family are determined to starve them of that platform.

Max Foster, CNN -- Windsor Castle.


VAUSE: Well, humanity in the face of the greatest of us. Just ahead on this International Women's Day, a powerful new documentary reveals the dignity and determination of refugee girls determined to build a better life.


VAUSE: Be it Donald Trump's America or Brexit in the U.K. or the rise of nationalism and far-right parties across Europe or beyond, economic hardship and uncertainty seem to have been midwives to a ginned up fear of the other. One of the driving forces behind a growing global divide which can best described as us versus them or the haves versus the have-nots.

In many ways it's an emotional separation. It's always easier to blame those you've never met for problems which cannot be solved, even easier to avoid empathy and compassion.

So we'd like to introduce you to one of the other -- 17-year-old Nasra, a young woman living in a refugee camp. She's also an orphan after the death of her mother. So it doesn't get much more have-not than that.

"Brave Girl Rising" is a short documentary which tells the story of Nasra and her determination to finish her education. But this story reveals much more than you could possibly imagine about the humanity, the courage, the dignity of one young woman.


NASRA, SOMALIAN REFUGEE: We pledge allegiance to our bodies. We pledge allegiance to fortifying our girlhood. We will be the big sisters we never had. We will be the fathers we always had. We will fortify our own lives (ph). We will protect the vulnerable. We will protect ourselves.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: "Brave Girl Rising" was a collaboration between Girl Rising, the nonprofit group behind the global campaign for girls education and the International Rescue Committee. It releases Friday to mark International Women's Day.

Joining us now from Los Angeles is Martha Adams, director of "Brave Girl Rising" and Nicole Behnam with the International Rescue Committee.

So first off, it is an amazing 16 minutes. It is a powerful 16 minutes. And everyone, if they get a chance, they should certainly go watch it.

And so Martha, first to you. You know, this sort of lays bare not just the dangers and the risks and hardships facing so many adolescent girls around the world. But you know, it accented the hope and the courage that they have to -- you know, just to go out there and try and build a better life. And that's what is also so moving about this.

MARTHA ADAMS, DIRECTOR, "BRAVE GIRL RISING": That's right. You know, I think most of us now know the statistics about the refugee crisis. There's more than 68 million people who are displaced in the world today. And sometimes those stats can feel overwhelming, we can feel despondent and just feel apathy.

And I think the real driving force behind this film and those words are -- the film is written by Warsan Shire -- is to make us feel, to really place us in the footsteps and really place us in the lives of Nasra so that we can understand the plight of a refugee.

Her words also -- you know, to those people who are refugees, I think it helps them to feel less isolated, to feel less alone. So I think, you know, information in the absence of emotion, it might make us smarter but I think right now in this polarized world that you're just describing we need to experience things that really open our hearts and inspire us to do the right thing.

VAUSE: And with regards to the writing which just is eloquent and powerful, there's one line early in the documentary which, you know, it has come to the real gut punch. Here it is. Listen to this.


NASRA: I am a child with no mother from a people with no home. I have a present with no future.


VAUSE: I have a present with no future. I mean -- you know, Warsan Shire who is a young former poet laureate in London, you know, wrote these words but words which Nasra actually to put her story into prose. This is not a story. You know, which is why it is so powerful like this.

[01:50:07] ADAMS: That's right. I mean Nasra has suffered tremendous loss. I mean she lost both of her parents at a young age. And then it was her grandparents that walked her across the desert to safety to the refugee camp Dadaab. And there she lost both of her grandparents.

So it's kind of -- it's very difficult for all of us to wrap our heads around the loss and the tragedy that she's already experienced at the young age of 17. But you know, what is truly remarkable is that she just is so courageous and so resilient.

And she symbolizes millions of other girls, millions of girls around the world who are confronting similar barriers. Barriers that prevent them from going to school. Barriers that prevent them from basically reaching their full potential.

So she's a remarkable girl. I'm so happy that the world will have a chance to hear her story.

VAUSE: It's an incredible story.

ADAMS: It's very inspirational.

VAUSE: It is incredible.

And here's that part of the documentary when she remembers how war in Somalia forced her to leave and begin that long walk to the refugee camp. Here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark. At every checkpoint we were asked, "Are you human"?

There was memory and the absence of memory. We are the lost & found of humanity.


VAUSE: You know, Nicole -- you know from the works that you and the International Rescue Committee have been doing with refugees, I mean are they all treated as something less than humans? Do they all have similar experiences to tell?

NICOLE BEHNAM, INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE: Well, I do think they have similar experiences and yet every single one is a story unto itself. We hope that they're not all treated as less than human and countries around the world where International Rescue Committee and other organizations are working with refugee populations. We hope to help them to build back up, to build their lives up again.

But adolescent girls represent a unique case. They are at a juxtaposition where they experience the challenges of harmful gender norms because of their gender. It keeps them out of services, exposes them to all forms of violence, delegitimized because of their gender.

But they also experience challenges because of their age because they are still developing emotionally, physically, mentally and yet their voices and their choices are taken away from them many times because of their age.

They're in between girlhood and womanhood but many times in programs they're lumped together with children or with adult women and put into roles for adult women that stop them from developing their full potential.

VAUSE: I just wanted to jump in because that's why she talks about, you know, the dangers and the risks which she faces because, you know, of her gender and her age. I want to play that part of the documentary. We can talk about it on the other side. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll have to say a prayer here. If you walk alone, you are the prey. There's death. And there are things you imagine might feel worse than death.


VAUSE: So Nicole -- for young women, I mean, they're basically a group all their own when it comes to, you know, the dangers and the risks which they're facing.

BEHNAM: Yes, that is absolutely true. They -- worldwide adolescent girls face rates of violence that are actually incomprehensible I think for many of us. And -- many of the countries where the IRC is working we see rates as high as 40 percent for sexual violence that girls are experiencing.

And yet there are programs to help them overcome that. There are programs that the International Rescue Committee is working on where we provided adolescent girls with life skills, where we work with the community and the caregivers around them to help them to understand that violence is not ok. That excluding young girls from the services that they need to develop to their full potential is not ok.

And in many of those places we've seen some really good success in helping adolescent girls to overcome the challenges that they're faced with day to day.

But it is sometimes -- we recite these numbers as Martha said, you know, when we talk about 68 million displaced, I just mentioned the number, 40 percent experiencing sexual violence.

[01:55:02] But behind every number is a name and behind every name is a story. And in those stories we see resilience alongside the danger. And we see the potential that could be if we give them the opportunity to grow to their full potential.

VAUSE: Yes. Because there is strength and there is courage on display in the documentary, halfway through I think pretty much when it is very much needed as part of the story telling.

This is, you know one of the moments of joy that we get to hear from Nasra and her life. This is it. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are a few good things in my life -- School, wearing red, because red is for the girl WHO is at the top of her class. The soft faces of my friends smiling back at me.


VAUSE: And Martha, you know, it is no coincidence that she said that, you know, school is one of the highlights because the girls getting an education if they can makes just such an incredible difference to their lives and to the lives of those around them.

ADAMS: That's right. Nasra said that when you have lost what I have lost, education becomes your everything. And I think that's a such a powerful quote because as -- as we were just saying, you know, there's 130 million girls in the sink room (ph) classrooms around the world.

There's 17 million refugee girls and the girls in Dadaab, the girls that I met in IRC's life skills program and their girl empowerment programs is absolutely remarkable, what they're confronting on daily basis. They're at risk of child marriage. They're at risk of FGM. They are frequently told to not go to school simply because the journey is too dangerous.

So they're really on the frontlines. The most vulnerable girls in the world you could easily argue. And yet, despite this -- look at this. They have such optimism and such joy.

And I think Warsan writes about it in the scripts that, you know, despite everything our capacity to love is still -- is still does there. It is still, you know.

VAUSE: There's still reason to hope. And it's amazing that this group of girls especially Nasra, have that hope and that courage and that determination to be going and as beautifully captured in the 16 minutes. And everyone should go and watch if they get a chance. And you know, they should connect with someone who they've never ever connected with before as best they can through this documentary.

So thanks to you both -- Nicole and Martha. Great to have you with us.

ADAMS: Thank you very much.

BEHNAM: Thank you. Good to be here.

VAUSE: And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm John Vause. A lot more news after a very short break.

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