Liberia: Rescuing Our Young Women, Others from Slavery Abroad

President George Weah.

This Editorial is specifically directed at President George Weah and his relevant GOL Agencies, including the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), the Liberian Immigration Service (LIS) and Liberia National Police (LNP). 


Just as a reminder to President Weah and his top officials — Liberia was founded in 1822 as an asylum for Black People in the United States of America (USA) who, for at least three centuries, had been living in that country as slaves.

So who are those who are trying to repeat this ignominious (humiliating, disgraceful) history by RESENDING OUR PEOPLE BACK INTO SLAVERY IN THE MIDDLE EAST — OR ANYWHERE ELSE?

We are in this Editorial calling on President Weah, the Justice Minister, the Liberian Immigration Service (LIS) and all other relevant GOL officials, indeed the entire Liberian government, to put an immediate HALT to the shipping of our people to the Middle East seeking jobs.

Will we Liberians ever learn?  Have we not heard, has it not been brought to our attention time and time again in the media, including the Daily Observer, that there are people in certain parts of the world, including the Middle East, who have no regard for human dignity, human freedom and human rights, especially of people other than themselves, black people in  particular?  So why do we keep sending our beloved and innocent young people—boys and girls, men and women—there to be enslaved, under the guise of seeking employment?

The point of reference for this Editorial is the April 6, 2022 edition of the Daily Observer headline story entitled, “Escape from ‘Slavery’ in Oman.”

It was the horrific story about an unsuspecting young Liberian woman who had been sent to Oman in the Middle East seeking employment.  One day, on November 27 last year, her boss lady in Oman took her to a hospital where, WITHOUT  the Liberian young woman’s  consent, she was operated upon and, it is suspected, one of her kidneys was extracted!  Before the procedure took place, the young Liberian woman protested; but her boss lady told her, “I own you and can do to you anything I wish.” 

Just in case we Liberians may have forgotten or don’t know, Liberia was founded in 1822 as an asylum (a place of refuge, shelter, safe haven) from slavery in the United States.  

It was in 1818 that the American Colonization Society (ACS)—the Organization chiefly responsible for Liberia’s founding—sent out two men, Samuel J. Mills and Ebenezer Burgess, to the West African coast to find a haven (asylum, refuge) where black people, freed from slavery in the USA, could come and live in freedom and liberty in their own home.

They found this land, which an American general, Goodlore Harper of the State of Maryland in the USA, named “Liberia”.  It was after General Harper that the people of Maryland in Liberia named the capital of Maryland County — Harper City. 

We are a free people, citizens of an independent republic, Africa’s first.  So what is the Weah government doing to apprehend those unscrupulous people who lure our young people, boys and girls, men and women, to be shipped to the Middle East to be treated as slaves?

We urge the Weah government — the  Ministries of Justice and of Labor in particular — to leave no stone unturned to put an immediate HALT to this ignominious practice.  From today’s date, these Ministries must make sure to examine and investigate all initiatives involving sending our people for work in the Middle East.  

It is a laudable declaration by the Justice Minister that those Liberians involved in human trafficking will be prosecuted in line with the law.  We urge both the Ministries of Justice and of Labor to investigate thoroughly the conditions surrounding each invitation, to ensure that the arrangements and conditions of such engagements are good, genuine, acceptable, decent and worthy. 

But more, still, needs to be done. The Daily Observer learnt that the individual who arranged the Oman ‘enslavement’ described above — one Cephus Sedebay — was arrested and later released on bail. If there is any truth to this, then there is no wonder why the 2021 Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Report on Liberia, published by the US Department of State, downgraded Liberia to the Tier 2 Watch List.

“The Government of Liberia does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so,” says the TIP report. “These efforts included opening a new shelter for child trafficking victims, initiating an investigation into a high-profile labor trafficking case in cooperation with foreign governments, and allocating funding to NGOs to conduct awareness raising campaigns. However, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period, even considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity. The government identified fewer victims, initiated fewer investigations, prosecuted fewer defendants, and did not convict any traffickers.”  The TIP report recommends that the 2005 anti-trafficking law be amended “to prescribe penalties for adult trafficking that are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with the penalties for other grave crimes.”

We could not agree more. Human trafficking ought to be addressed with the same magnitude as rape, murder and other crimes against humanity. 

We must never be seen to be condoning or sanctioning the sending of our people into servitude.  This is NOT acceptable and should NEVER be allowed to happen again!