Published August 2, 2021
The Commissioner-General of the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), Robert W. Budy, has indicated that Human Trafficking is a serious crime and a grave violation of human right which threatens national security and undermines sustainable development and rule of law.
According to him, human trafficking has been recognized as one of the fastest growing businesses that people are involved with.
Commissioner Budy said people profit from human trafficking through the exploitation and transiting of human beings, which undermines national government and human safety.
He said all countries are affected and they are serving as transit points and destinations for traffickers. Col. Budy noted that over the years, human trafficking has captured significant legislation and its consequences.
He said that while it is true the international community is committed to the fight against trafficking, much is still needed to eradicate ‘this organized international crime’; given its clandestine nature.
He added that the UN System has played a critical role in drafting laws and creating national comprehensive actions on anti-human trafficking and assisting with the implementations of laws and strategy.
The LIS Commissioner General said that due to the seriousness the Government of Liberia attaches to the eradication of human trafficking in the country, the LIS with the assistance of the UNHCR has amended certain provision of the Alien and Nationality Law of Liberia.
He said the LIS has added thereto a crime of human trafficking which requires a trafficker to pay a fine of US$3,000 or serve a prison term of not less than six years if found guilty by the court.
“We want to take this time to extend our thanks and appreciation to the UNHCR family for their support in the drafting and validating the law. As we await the legislation of the amended law, the LIS being a component of the National Anti-Human Trafficking Taskforce of Liberia has made some gains and continues to make all efforts including putting in place mechanism and strategy aimed at combating human trafficking in Liberia. As such, the LIS has strived over the years to raise alarm to discourage the movement of could-be traffickers from using the country as a transit point for the purpose of trafficking people.”
He said that in 2019 and 2020, citizens of neighboring countries used Liberia as conduit to travel through the land borders to the RIA for travel to other countries where others were posted to receive them.
The LIS Boss, however, stated that human trafficking can be prevented, stopped, and abolished through public awareness, outreach, education and advocacy campaigns supported vigorous enforcement of the law on human trafficking and the prosecution of cases.
The Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) Commissioner General made these assertions over the weekend when he served as Keynote Speaker at celebration making the observance of World Day Against Human Trafficking held in Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County.
Delivering a special statement for the celebration of the day, the Chairman of the National Anti-Human Trafficking of Liberia, Labour Minister Cllr. Charles H. Gibson assured local and international partners that Liberia will no longer be used as a transit point or corridor for the trafficking of persons to other parts of the world, noting that the taskforce is determined and committed.
Cllr. Gibson noted that Liberia is also faced with its own internal trafficking problems that are connected to the culture of the people.
Cllr. Gibson maintained that the taskforce is committed to advancing this fight in the next few months with the support of its partners.
He said there is a team of lawyers currently hired by the taskforce and is committed to the prosecution of all possible traffickers and trafficking cases.
“This time, the taskforce is determined to ensure that all trafficking cases end at the first court of hearing as a means of preventing traffickers from taking an appeal. This crime must stop and we must work to ensure that it stops,” Minister Gibson said.
Cllr. Gibson further noted that the work of the taskforce in the next few months will prove to the Liberian people and international partners that it is serious and that Liberia will no longer be used as a transit point for transporting people.
“We will be focusing on how we can get our people in the interior aware of whom they are giving their children to.”
Minister Gibson maintained human trafficking is not only done by foreigners but Liberians as well.
He narrated a particular story of a young Liberian woman who was trafficked to Asia by family members through a trafficking network sponsored by another Liberian woman in the USA.
He said that the young lady who was taken from Liberia at age 13, now 16, was brought back to the country and is currently telling her story.
He has promised to ensure that the alleged Liberian trafficker in the US is brought back to face justice in the County.
“These things had been happening for many years and this is the time they must stop. This Taskforce at this time is very determined to curtail it and they shouldn’t think about it”.
Statements of reaffirmation of commitment to the fight against human trafficking in Liberia were made by members of the Taskforce including: the Ministries of Justice, Internal Affairs, Gender, Children and Social Protection and Foreign Affairs. Also statements of commitment to the fight came from the United States Embassy, and partners.
Earlier, a special Presidential Trafficking in Person (TIP) Message was read by student Nathaniel S. Weah, Jr. of Bassa High School.
The celebrations which was held under the theme “Victim’s Voices Lead The Way” brought together members of the National Anti-Human Trafficking Taskforce, local and international partners in the fight against human trafficking in Liberia.