LIBERIA: Minister Gibson Wants TIP Lawyers Gather Prove Of Evidence Before Prosecution

Press release

Minister Charles Gibson

A one day symposium aimed at building the capacity of lawyers prosecuting Human Trafficking cases took place over the weekend at the Ministry of Labour in Monrovia.

Speaking during the symposium, the Chairman of the National Anti-Human Trafficking Taskforce of Liberia, Labour Minister Cllr. Charles H. Gibson said that the symposium is to strengthen lawyers involved with TIP cases to apply those tools that will not make them vulnerable to defendants.

Minister Gibson said that it is necessary for lawyers and prosecutors to continuously read and consult in order to enrich the fight against human trafficking in Liberia.

He said that the fight against Trafficking in Persons is not only for those who are perceived victims, but also the accused. He said that it should not be about going around arresting or accusing everyone for human trafficking considering that the minimum penalty is 20-years.

“If prosecuting lawyers review the files and realize that the grounds to prove TIP is not in evidence, you should not force it. Because sending somebody to 20 years imprisonment is like a life sentence.  The current law does not give discretionary power to Judges; it is mandatory” Min. Gibson noted.

He encourage TIP Lawyers to also secure the right of those who are being accused and they should not go prosecuting solely because of wanting to win case.

“Is better for prosecutors to consult when charge sheets are prepared looking at the evidence; we are for justice and not just to win cases” he noted.

He said that the TIP Taskforce will not take to court a case without sufficient evidence noting “we are not going to put someone in jail because we want to prove a point.”

Minister Gibson emphasized that this is the second symposium for the training of prosecutors as a result, the Taskforce have had four prosecutions and won all meaning that these symposiums are paying off.

He thanked the facilitators, prosecutors and partners for the successfully holding of the symposium.

Facilitators of the symposium outlined the differences between trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling as well as the three elements that constitute TIP. They said in order for a TIP case to exist, prosecutors must first identified the “Act, Means and Purpose”.

Act (What is done); Means (How is done) and Purpose (Why it is done or type of exploitation).

Also speaking at the symposium, the Country Manager of International Development Law Organization (IDLO), Madam Dorah C. Mafabi thanked Minister Gibson, the facilitators, prosecutors, representatives of CSOs and the TIP Secretariat for their commitment in the fight against Trafficking in Persons in Liberia.

The symposium was facilitated by, His Honor, Roosevelt Z. Wille, Resident Judge, Criminal “A”, Cllr. Nelson B. Chineh, Training Director, Judicial Institute and Cllr. Comelius Wemah, Resident Judge, Sexual Offense, 9th Judicial Circuit Court, Bong County.

The symposium brought together Prosecutors of the Ministry of Justice including County Attorneys, Police Investigators, the US Embassy, IDLO, Representatives of CSOs and officials of the TIP Secretariat.

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