Liberia: Firestone Partners with U.S. Embassy, USAID and Liberian Government to Launch Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign

Firestone Liberia has announced a joint initiative with the U.S. Embassy in Liberia, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Liberian Ministry of Labour to actively raise awareness within the Firestone Liberia community around trafficking in persons (TIP). Firestone Liberia is among the largest private employers in the country, employing approximately 6,000 teammates.

As part of the multi-pronged campaign, on February 7, Voice of Firestone Radio launched a weekly one-hour live phone-in radio program focused on TIP that targets audiences within the Firestone community. Specific topics for each episode will be jointly selected by the Ministry of Labour and the TIP secretariat, with support from the U.S. Embassy in Liberia and USAID. Regular guests from the Ministry of Labour will join the program to speak to these topics and answer questions. 

The program is aired weekly from 11 a.m. until noon on Mondays, beginning February 7, with a rebroadcast on Tuesday at 3pm. The station will also air public service announcements and jingles about TIP from the Ministry of Labor. In addition to the new radio program, Firestone Liberia will distribute anti-human trafficking materials, such as flyers, banners and t-shirts, host key speakers from the TIP secretariat, and conduct TIP training sessions within the Firestone concession area, including the Firestone Liberia school system, using training kits provided by USAID.

“For nearly 100 years, Firestone has been taking steps to provide a better way of life for Liberians by providing jobs, healthcare, education and investments in the economy. As human trafficking continues to increase here in Liberia, it is imperative that we take action to work toward its elimination,” said Don Darden, General Manager of Firestone Liberia. “By joining forces with these organizations that are deeply involved in combatting this crisis, we have an opportunity to reach our 6,000 teammates and their families, and make a real, measurable impact.”

TIP, or human trafficking, is defined by the U.S. State Department as “a crime whereby traffickers exploit and profit at the expense of adults or children by compelling them to perform labor or engage in commercial sex.” Since 2001, the Department has issued a Trafficking in Persons Report to call on governments to join the US in improving collective efforts to comprehensively address human trafficking. In the Report, the Department evaluates the extent of government efforts to meet the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000’s minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking and places each country into one of four tiers.

The 2021 TIP Report downgraded Liberia from Tier 2 to the Tier 2 Watch List, indicating that the country does not fully meet the TVPA’s minimum standards but is making significant efforts to come into compliance with those standards. Despite these efforts, the report dictates that “the estimated number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing and the country is not taking proportional concrete actions; or there is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year, including increased investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of trafficking crimes, increased assistance to victims, and decreasing evidence of complicity in severe forms of trafficking by government officials.”

Firestone Liberia and the other participating sponsors intend to use the awareness campaign as a major step toward reversing this trend and restoring Liberia to its Tier 2 status, with the goal of one day achieving a Tier 1 designation.

“The Government of Liberia has demonstrated the political will in the fight against Trafficking In Persons by instituting several measures including the amendment of the 2005 Anti-Human Trafficking Law, to include penalties that are stringent for alleged traffickers and the compilation of a five year National Action Plan to address prevention and protection. Today, we are pleased to be partnering with Firestone Liberia, U.S. Embassy, and USAID to raise awareness in the Firestone communities. The Ministry of Labor values the expressed commitment and effort of Firestone Liberia, which will buttress government’s decentralized county level TIP fight”, said Mr. Aldophus Satiah, Director of Trafficking in Persons(TIP) at Liberia’s Ministry of Labor. 

Mr. Bolley Borley Morlu, Chief of Anti Human Trafficking Unit, Liberia Immigration Service appearing as guest of the TIP radio show on Firestone Liberia’s radio station, Voice of Firestone  

Mr. Enoch Dunbar, Superintendent, Women and Children Protection Section, Liberia National Police appearing as guest of the TIP radio show on the Voice of Firestone radio station.