Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cllr. Deweh Gray says the best response to human trafficking is to prevent people from being trafficked in the first place. “People need to be provided opportunities which will increase their livelihoods and help them to prosper at home. Prosperity at home will reduce the false enticements of the trafficking trade”.
Cllr. Gray further said that fight against human trafficking is not to be left with the government alone, but to every Liberia. “We also need to take action when we get our hands on traffickers. During the year in review we have seen the successful prosecution of a human trafficker in our courts. This should send a signal that the government is ready in its fight against trafficking in persons”.
She said that with the assistance from the International Organization for Migration some stranded Liberian migrants were repatriated from Niger and other countries.
Cllr. Gray noted that poverty, corruption, weak structures, lack of education, etc. are causes of trafficking. “Yes, these are some factors, the real root cause of human trafficking. When we seek justice against a human adversary we seek to destroy the root of trafficking. The trafficker schemes to exploit the vulnerable and conceal the crime. They work against the justice system, but stopping an individual trafficker is doable.”
She said Liberia need to have an effective criminal justice system where police, prosecutors and judges of good will cannot send traffickers to jail if they are not equipped with the skills to do so. The justice system needs to be transformed through proven strategies so they can join the fight.
“Stopping the trafficker does not only resolve all the conditions that render individuals vulnerable. It frees victims and provides them with a fighting spirit to improve their situation or benefit from important development programs. Any serious effort to combat human trafficking must include striking at its root cause which is the trafficker”.
Cllr. Deweh Gray made these assertions at program marking the Second National Observance of the World Day Against Trafficking In- Persons convened by the Ministry of Labor on behalf of the National Anti-Human Trafficking Taskforce of Liberia.
The observance which was held under the theme “End Human Trafficking-Strengthening Government’s Action” was held in the Administrative Hall of the Roberts International Airport (RIA) in Margibi County on Tuesday, July 30, 2019.
For his part, the Commissioner General of the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), Hon. Robert W. Budy, Sr. said human trafficking and migrant smuggling in Liberia remains a challenge noting that the LIS which is responsible for border control has begun putting into place robust mechanisms to assist in the identification of those human trafficking and smuggling of migrant issues in Liberia. As evidence, on July 25, and 29, 2019 respectively, the LIS prevented Eighteen (18) Sierra Leonean nationals all females from leaving the Country through the Roberts International Airport. They were intercepted for using Liberia as a transit to travel to several Middle Eastern and Asian Countries.
The LIS Commissioner General noted that Human Trafficking and Migrants Smuggling is one of the most tragic human rights issues of our time. It separates families, affects global markets, undermines the rule of law, and stimulates other transnational criminal activities. It threatens public safety and national security.
“Trafficking In Persons is a serious human rights issue in Liberia. Therefore, in order to track and document on combating trafficking in persons and migrants smuggling, we would like to recommend the following to the National Anti-Human Trafficking Taskforce of Liberia:
Increase investigation and prosecution of labor related trafficking cases; Dedicate additional resources to combat trafficking; and Encourage counties, districts, and tribal authorities to adopt policies not to criminalize victims of human trafficking but to care for them.
Earlier, the Chairman of the National Anti-Human Trafficking Taskforce, Labor Minister, Chief Moses Y. Kollie said that the Taskforce selected the RIA for this years’ celebration because it is a gateway to the country and one of the key points of transit for would-be traffickers.
“It is our hope that this event will help to encourage or educate all stakeholders as well as the private sector, airport workers, particularly officers of the LIS to be very vigilant when it comes to identifying incidences of human trafficking”.
He said this years’ observance is intended to educate, advice, inform and create awareness on the danger of human trafficking, noting that “human trafficking is any action or practice of transporting people from one country or area to another for the purpose of force labor or sexual exploitation.”
The Chairman of the Taskforce used the occasion to commend officers of the LIS assigned at the RIA for being swift in arresting 18 Sierra Leoneans using our country for transit to the Middle East and Asia.
The program was graced by members of the National Anti-Human Trafficking Taskforce, the Ambassador of the United States, representatives of ECOWAS, IDLO, the Liberia Labor Congress (LLC), Liberia Chamber Commerce (LCC), Civil Society organizations as well as management and staff of the RIA.
By: J. Kortu Nyandibo/Director of Communications/MOL