(LINA) – The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Williametta Saydee-Tarr, has termed human trafficking as “an affront to the universal value of humanity,” stating that it deprives millions worldwide, including Liberians, of their dignity and freedom.
Minister Tarr said it requires careful coordination and cooperation to institute effective anti-trafficking responses, which takes to heart the best interests of children and young people.
The Gender Minister explained that, the use of human trafficking by criminal cartels does not only reflect brutality against humanity, especially women and girls, but also acts as a means of decimating the dignity of the human population.
“Combating human trafficking is not merely a moral issues or one that affects the interest of humanity, it is an issue that threatens national and international peace and security,” Tarr said at the Robert International Airport-Hall at the official ceremony marking the observance of World Day against Trafficking in Person.
The program was organized by the Ministry of Labor on behalf of the National Anti-Human Trafficking Force and was celebrated under the theme “End Human Trafficking-Strengthening Government’s Action.”
Tarr encouraged Liberians to remain firm in their collective commitment to combat this global threat, citing that, such commitment must go beyond just narratives and focus on effective ways by which local communities can address this human menace proactively.
She indicated that, Liberians should also focus on how national government can support and empower them.
“Let’s not forget, local communities are mostly affected by this abhorrent crime and are also the first line of defence against it,” Tarr noted.
By engaging and training law enforcement, religious leaders, teachers, traditional elders, business executives, and communities, the Gender Minister emphasized that Liberia will become more vigilant and learn to identify and address vulnerabilities swiftly.
She added: “Proactive community and driven measures can also strengthen our ability to protect our most vulnerable and weaken a criminal’s ability to infiltrate, recruit, and exploit our people, particularly young girls.”
According to her, it has been proven many times that individuals closest to a problem are often the best resource for solving it, adding that, “Which is why we must prioritize equipping and empowering frontline civil society leaders.
The government cannot do these things alone, she said, stating that multi-stakeholder partnerships are critical to enable Liberia combat the act of human trafficking.
Human trafficking is a crime that exploits women, children and men for numerous purposes, including forced labor and sex.
According to recent report from the United Nations, since 2003, the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes has collected information on about 225,000 victims of trafficking detected worldwide. Globally countries are detecting and reporting more victims and convicting more traffickers.
The World Day against Trafficking in Person is observed on July 30 every year to reinforce collective efforts on how to fight against human trafficking worldwide and to help those who are victimized.
In a related development, the United Nations Secretary General (UNSG), Antonio Guterres, has stressed the need for more work in bringing transnational human trafficking networks to justice and ensuring that victims are identified and have access to the needed protection and services.
In his message to the world on the observance of “World Day Against Trafficking in Persons,” Guterres said though multilateral actions have generated progress and most countries have put in place the necessary laws, while some countries recently recorded their first trafficking conviction, more still needs to be done to tackle the global menace.
“On this World Day against Trafficking in Persons, let us reaffirm our commitment to stop criminals from ruthlessly exploiting people for profit and to help victims rebuild their lives,” said Guterres.
Making reference to the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes report which indicates that more than 72 percent of detected human trafficking victims are women and girls, Guterres said the number is “shocking.”
According to him, most detected victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation and are also trafficked for forced labor, recruitment as child soldiers and other forms of exploitation and abuse.
“Traffickers and terrorist groups prey on the vulnerable, from people in poverty to those caught up in war or who face discrimination. Armed conflict, displacement, climate change, natural disasters, and poverty exacerbate the vulnerabilities and desperation that enable trafficking to flourish. Migrants are being targeted,” Guterres stated.
The UNSG added: “Thousands of people have died at sea, in deserts, and in detention centers, at the hands of traffickers and migrant smugglers plying their monstrous, merciless trades.”
The World Day against Trafficking in Persons was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly through a resolution passed in 2013. The day is observed annually on July 30.
Trafficking of persons is a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights. Every year, thousands of men, women, and children fall into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries and abroad.
Almost every country in the world is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims.
UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), as guardian of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and the Protocols thereto, assists States in their efforts to implement the Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons