‘Human Trafficking Counterproductive to True Freedom’

US Ambassador Michael McCarthy

-- U.S. Gov’t Stresses

Trafficking in Persons (TIP), a contemporary form of slavery mainly affecting children, is one form of human rights abuse that the U.S. Government is making great efforts to discourage.  This social snare has been practiced long and subtly in Liberia, and researchers say it is carried out by relatives and friends of impoverished families who, under the guise of providing opportunities for children in the city, subject them to domestic servitude.

Instead of sending them to school as promised by the so-called guardians, the children turn into domestic workers and sellers in the street places while the biological children of the guardians go to the best private schools at the expense of the domestic servants’ labor.

The U.S. Embassy near Monrovia, therefore, sees this as counterproductive to the true meaning of freedom and is calling on the Liberian Government to take steps to curb it in order to avoid tainting its human rights records.

In a statement of appreciation to Liberia for the Independence Day greetings extended the United States on its 244th Independence Anniversary, Ambassador Michael McCarthy stated: “One area of focus which is particularly relevant to the theme of freedom is trafficking-in-persons, sometimes called human trafficking or modern slavery,” which he noted the traffickers profit at the expense of their victims, compelling them to perform labor or to engage in commercial sex.

According to the Ambassador, this menace is happening around the world, the United States and Liberia inclusive.

On July 12, 2019, former U.S. Ambassador Christine Elders raised a staggering alarm over rampant child labor and trafficking in Liberia, stressing that victims are forced to beg in the streets, engage in sex slavery, street vending and force labor. 

According to the former U.S. Ambassador, a team of researchers from the Embassy conducted fact finding at the ELWA Junction in Paynesville, and from there, they realized that out of 15 children selling on Tubman Boulevard, 13 were brought to Monrovia by their uncles or aunties. 

Though 15 in such a research is not a considerable number, the Ambassador alarmed that trafficking-in-persons and child labor were rampant in the country and that the government needed to take some affirmative actions to curb the situation because it is an act of dehumanizing people.

In the same vein, Ambassador McCarthy in the statement said, “We are committed to working with Liberia through the four Ps of Prosecution, Protection, Prevention, and Partnership -- to stamp out the crime.”

The U.S. Department of State, after raining praises on Liberia a few months back, bounced back in recent days with a demotion statement placing Liberia on Tier-2 Watch List for failing to prosecute cases and convict culprits of trafficking-in-person.

In his freedom message to the people of Liberia as the US celebrates its own freedom, Ambassador McCarthy recalled the legislative decision his government has taken to establish a “Juneteenth” Federal Holiday commemorating the date in 1865 following the end of the U.S. Civil War, when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to ensure that all enslaved people were freed.

“Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in the United States and provides yet another opportunity to reflect on the meaning of freedom, including its responsibilities and imperatives,” Ambassador McCarthy said.

The Ambassador, in a sympathetic mood concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, also stressed that while everyone including him takes precautionary measures against the disease, the Embassy's core objectives continue: partnering with Liberia to strengthen peace and security, to promote private sector-led economic development, and to improve health and educational access and quality.

These core values, the Ambassador said, accompany true freedom and any contrary acts including trafficking-in-persons and domestic servitude coming against them are unacceptable in US-Liberia relations and the Liberian government must do everything to curb them.