Liberia A ‘Center for Human Trafficking’?

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The National Secretariat of Trafficking in Person (TIP) working with the Ministry of Labor has identified the South-eastern region of the country as the area from which most children trafficked to Monrovia and other cities originate.

The disclosure was made last Wednesday in Monrovia at a one-day workshop organized for journalists by World Hope International (WHI).

Adolphus G. Satiah of the National Secretariat for TIP emphasized that most children his organization has identified in Monrovia as being trafficked come from Grand Gedeh, Maryland, River Gee and Sinoe counties.

He said parents of some of the trafficked children give them to either relatives or friends who promise to send them to school, but on the contrary, the children end up being used as domestic servants.

“Most people in those South-eastern counties are poor so they sometimes give their children to people living in urban areas, especially in Monrovia, hoping they would be sent to school, but instead, many are made to work without going to the school,” Mr. Satiah said.

He said they have found out in Monrovia and Bomi County from investigations that most of the children selling in the streets and burning coal trace their backgrounds from the South-eastern region with a few from Nimba and Lofa Counties.

Mr. Satiah also pointed out that Liberia is recorded in a U.S. State Department report as the center for trafficking. He said in Liberia, traffickers from other parts of the world bring trafficked persons and take them to various destinations around the world.

He said human trafficking is illegal and is prohibited by law in Liberia, and urged journalists and the public to take keen note and report cases of trafficking to th relevant authorities.

For his part, World Hope International Program Manager, Wellington A. Kollie, defined trafficking in persons to be “Modern day slavery,” noting that trafficking is identified by the act, means and purpose.

He said the act involves the recruiting process, the means as the pretense under which recruitment is done and the purpose serving as the reasons for taking the recruits to the intended destinations.

He clarified that obtaining a person through deception, force or coercion for the purpose of exploitation in all forms constitutes human trafficking.

Mr. Kollie said children less than 18 years have been trafficked from one place to the other in the country to work on farms, sell in the streets, beg, burn charcoal and mine minerals in the bush.

He also said young girls are also trafficked and prostituted in hotels and bars in Monrovia, and areas where diamond and gold are mined in the country.

Earlier, Mr. Kollie said young people (males and females) were trafficked for war and ritual purpose.

He said because of the horrific increase in human trafficking in Liberia with the propensity to undermine the economy and human capita, the media needs to be proactive to report cases through proper investigation.

In consonance with presentations from the two men, U.S. State Department of 2015 about Liberia states, “Liberia is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Most trafficking victims originate from and are exploited within the country’s borders, where they are subjected to domestic servitude, forced begging, sex trafficking, or forced labor in street vending, alluvial diamond mines, and on rubber plantations.

Traffickers typically operate independently and are commonly family members, who promise poorer relatives a better life for their children. Children sent to work as domestic servants for their wealthier relatives are vulnerable to forced labor or, to a lesser extent, sexual exploitation.
Orphaned children remain susceptible to exploitation, including in street selling and prostitution.

A small number of Liberian men, women, and children are subjected to human trafficking in other West African countries, including Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. Victims of transnational trafficking come to Liberia from neighboring West African countries, including Sierra Leone, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, and Nigeria, and are subjected to the same types of exploitation as internally trafficked victims.

Women from Tunisia and Morocco have been subjected to sex trafficking in Liberia. During the reporting period, Liberian women were subjected to forced labor in Lebanon. Bribery at border stations, capacity issues, and generalized corruption within the judiciary continued to hamper trafficking investigations and prosecutions.”

Mrs. Princess Taire, Deputy Program Manager of World Hope International emphasized the need for confidentiality in dealing with victims of trafficking.

Mrs. Taire stressed that trafficking victims are maltreated that they become traumatized, and exposing them without their consent causes more harm to them.

She said while journalists are to report facts, it is expedient for them to work with trafficking victims like trained social workers, who observe ethical guidelines of confidentiality that prevents victims from exposure.

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