Labor Ministry Recommits to Fight Human Trafficking

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Labor Minister Moses Y. Kollie and U.S. Embassy Chargé d'Affaires, Alyson Grunder

Barely a week after the U.S. Embassy near Monrovia released its 2020 Trafficking in Persons Country Report for Liberia and announced that it (Liberia) has been elevated to Tier 2 after three years, Labour Minister Moses Y. Kollie has reiterated that with the authorization and consent of President George M. Weah, they have recommitted the government’s consistent determination in stepping up the fight against Human Trafficking.

In the report, the U.S. Embassy lavished praises on the Ministry of Labor and other stakeholders in the fight against trafficking in person and encouraged them to continue and reach Tier 1, the highest point of commitment to the fight.

Minister Kollie, who delivered a special statement at a GOL-US Embassy in Liberia joint press briefing on Tuesday, June 30th, 2020, said with the progress made in this year’s report, there will be funding provided through a special budget line within the upcoming FY 2020/2021 approved budget for the work of the National Taskforce on Anti-Human Trafficking.

However, “We wish to request that you kindly buttress the efforts of our national government by providing more supports in the areas of training for LIS Officers, MOL Inspectors, LNP Officers, TIP case prosecutions, provide some logistics for borders patrols, etc. for the so purpose of getting the Taskforce to be more robust.”

“Again, thanks for the existing partnership, Your Excellency, and wish to inform you that we are not going to be complacent with our present achievement at Tier 2 evidenced by our continued regular monthly TIP Meetings through Zoom visual system due to the present global COVID-19 pandemic. We will redouble our determination in demonstrating that we can minimize if not, eliminate any form of Human Trafficking in Liberia through our partnership,” he pleaded with the U.S. Chargé d’ Affaires, Madam Alyson Grunder.

The joint press briefing that took place at the Labour Ministry office in Congo Town, was attended by members of the National Taskforce on Anti-Human Trafficking in Liberia; Ministry of Justice as Co-Chair, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Gender Children and Social, respectively. Minister Kollie also recalled the longstanding partnership with the United States Government through its Embassy in Liberia on the fight against Human Trafficking in Liberia.

The Taskforce Secretariat, according to him, expressed gratitude to the US Government through its Embassy in Liberia for the continued supports over the years in getting Liberia where it is today as a country in the fight against Trafficking In Persons, which is not only limited to financial; but rather constant engagement, consultations, guidance, and encouragement.

“Madam Chargé d’Affaires, kindly convey our profound gratitude to Madam Christine Elder, former US Ambassador to Liberia for her tremendous supports to Liberia and its National Taskforce in the fight against Trafficking In Persons during her duty of service in Liberia as Ambassador of the US Government. We missed her consistent guidance, encouragement and motivational words to us as Chair of the Taskforce on TIP,” he added.

He also informed the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires that the Administration of President Weah inherited the fight against Trafficking In Persons (TIP) in Liberia at Tier 2 Watch List through the National Taskforce headed by the MOL in 2018.

However, Minister Kollie stated that Liberia being a signatory to many international protocols and conventions in the world that ban Trafficking In Persons (TIP) both locally and internationally, and being in strong partnership with the US Government in the fight against Trafficking In Persons (TIP); this administration, within its first two (2) years of service as a government under the able leadership of President Weah, developed a serious interest in stepping up the fight against Trafficking In Persons (TIP) with concerted efforts of our local and international partners especially, the US Government through its Embassy here in Liberia.

Said Minister Kollie: “As I mentioned in the Statement on the Release of the 2020 Trafficking In Persons Report for Liberia, Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking-In-Persons, John Cotton Richmond of the Department of State of the US Government, paid a visit to Liberia in early September 2019 and met with President Weah along with some key Cabinet Members, who pledged and assured Ambassador Richmond of President Weah’s Administration unwavering readiness and support for the increased fight against Human Trafficking in Liberia.

“Today, it has become a perfect and positive history for our administration evidenced by the June 25, 2020 Department of States of the US Government Trafficking In Persons Report released for Liberia through its Embassy in Liberia.”

In the middle of the same September of 2020, there was a US-Liberia Roundtable discussion held which focused on Trafficking In Persons at the Department of States in the USA. Our Delegation headed by Foreign Minister G. Findley, again reassured our longstanding and strong partner, the United States Government about the determination of the Liberian Government to merit an upgrade to Tier 2 before March 31, 2020, in order to avoid downgrading to Tier 3, which has a very negative impact on every country that goes down to Tier 3 level.

“Again today, the Administration of President Weah has proven its preparedness in the fight against Human Trafficking in Liberia evidenced by our first two (2) years positive performance with all of the challenges we are faced with as a government and country in terms of both financial and materials resources.”

“For the record, Your Excellency Madam Grunder, Liberia determination in stepping up the fight against Human Trafficking was not only because Liberia was at the verge of losing some bilateral supports from its partner the USA, rather, Liberia being a Member State among the comity of nations that have signed on to many international conventions and protocols, including its own domestic law enacted in 2005 to ban Human Trafficking in Liberia, had to and is willing to continue stepping up the fight against Trafficking In Persons (TIP) with supports of our local and international partners; especially the US Government.”

Earlier on, U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, Alyson Grunder said: “I am here to say congratulations on being elevated to Tier-2 country in the fight against human trafficking and forced child labor. This achievement reflects what is possible through U.S.-Liberia partnership: we been here; we’re still here, working together.”

“This outcome,” Madam Grunder said, “is the result of two years of sustained hard work. The government of Liberia showed increasing efforts against trafficking by developing a new national action plan, allocating for the first time since 2014 a budget for the trafficking in person task Force, increasing investigations and increasing the identification of victims.”

According to her, the U.S. State Department Trafficking in Person report released last Wednesday highlights Liberia’s efforts to stop domestic trafficking of children for forced labor and street selling.

There is more work to be done, but these successes are a testament to what is possible, even when resources are scarce. She further noted that human trafficking and forced child labor still remain serious problems, and “we should not rest on our laurels.”

Echoing Minister Kollie’s recent statement, Madam Grunder said: “We should not be complacent, but redouble our efforts and as such, the U.S Embassy will continue to support efforts in this area by sponsoring training for law enforcement personnel, advising prosecutors, and working with the Ministry of Labor to stop child labor.”

Congratulating Minister Kollie for reinvigorating the work of the Task Force, and consistently pledging his commitment to fighting trafficking, Madam Grunder, said “The Tier ranking is an important recognition of  your work to date, but our efforts cannot stop here.”

Madam Grunder said the embassy is looking forward to working alongside the member agencies of the trafficking in persons Task Force as they continue to improve their ability to combat human trafficking and child labor. She also thanked and congratulated the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, the Liberia National Police, the Liberian Drug Enforcement Agency, the Ministry of Justice, and the LNP transnational Crimes Unit, for all investigating and working towards prosecutions on human trafficking cases.

At the same time, the U.S. Chargé d’Affairs extolled Gender Minister Saydee Tarr, for making shelter services available to victims of trafficking, especially child victims of forced labor; if present Commissioner Budy, for investing a number of large cases of domestic trafficking of children and Deputy Minister Phil Dixon, for leading the development of the National Action Plan and the coordination efforts of the Task Force.

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