Trafficking in persons is a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights.
According to international report, every year thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers in their own countries and abroad.
Almost every country in the world is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims.
This, according a defendant lawyer, is not the case with an arrest order issued by the Monrovia City Court against an Indian national, Anil K. Karma, whom the court charged with trafficking in person and theft of service.
The court claims that the charges were based on a police investigative report, based on which Karma was turned over to the court on Wednesday, April 3, and subsequently sent to the Monrovia Central Prison on ground that his lawyer could not afford to pay the amount the court charged for his bond.
In the report, the police claimed during the period of February 2020, that Karma, now the defendant, induced and influenced Karmal Sharma, who himself is an Indian.
The court records further claim that Karma convinced Sharma to come along with him to Liberia to work as a pharmacy manager with a monthly salary of US$550 including feeding allowance and accommodation, which accusation Karma’s lawyer, Attorney Vaani-Faate Kiadu admitted to when he spoke with journalist after his client was handcuffed and driven to his cell.
The records allege that Karma, in the process to bring Sharma to Liberia, only provided one-way flight- ticket from India to the country. However, since Sharma arrived in the country and worked, the defendant seized his passport with no pay given him and further subjected him to domestic servitude and is often abused by the defendant.
But during the interview, Atty. Kiadu claimed that prior to the COVID-19, his client went back to India in search of an honest person to control his pharmacy as a manager.
And after his arrival to the country, and due to the dire economic situation in the country, Atty Kiadu claimed that Karma could not afford the money to pay the monthly salary of US$550, but Karma managed to meet up with the rest of the benefits like feeding and accommodation.
Later, Kiadu claimed that Sharma wrote the defendant a letter of resignation, which Karma accepted, but Sharma’s documents were still in the possession of the defendant who is also his employer.
He said the reason was to allow Karma prepare the documents before giving them to Sharma.
“At no time did Karma ever refused to give Sharma his documents. Even Sharma was still communicating with his family back home. Where is the trafficking in person crimes he committed” Atty. Kiadu wondered.
Kiadu said the only issue is that Karma could not afford the money to pay Sharma as they agreed upon while in India.
“Karma told Sharma that the economic situation was very bad and he could not meet up with the agreed amount of US$550. This is the issue,” Atty. Kiadu claims.
According to Kiadu, he was surprised that the government could charge Kiama with trafficking instead of the crime “Action of Debt,” which is a civil matter.
“Karma has never prevented Sharma from traveling anywhere in the country. He is free to go anywhere as he wishes. Is this trafficking? Our police need to do due diligence whenever they are conducting criminal Investigation, ” Atty Kiadu, himself a former security officer advised. “You are talking about people’s integrity, so let us be mindful how we handle cases and charge people.”