Gender Ministry Raises War Against Human Trafficking

The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, has taken giant and remedial steps tied toward tackling human trafficking in the country.

The ministry has established, trained and empowered more Community Welfare Committees who are trained to report cases of human trafficking.

Speaking at a Two-day human trafficking awareness virtual workshop, tagged, “Trapped In Transit”, held on November 4 & 5, 2021, the Gender Minister, Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr, mentioned that the Ministry of Labor is also reactivating the Trafficking In Persons (TIP) meetings at the county levels.

Minister Saydee-Tarr stressed that, with support from UN Women and “GOL & Partners Anti-SGBV Road Map 2020-2022”, a call center has been established to respond to call of distress, including TIP.

She asserted that, with support from the International Labor Organization (ILO), the Ministry of Labor is running a safe home for adult victims of TIP, and additional safe homes are being set up in Bomi, Grand Gedeh, Lofa and Nimba counties.

Minister Tarr noted that the Ministry of Gender is running an interim care center that provides care and protection for children victims of TIP.

The Gender Boss disclosed that, as of October 2020, the Government of Liberia (GOL), under the Weah Administration, had provided US$75,000 to the Ministry of Labor for the fight against trafficking in persons.

She revealed that in fiscal year 2021, financial support was increased to US$200,000, and during the adjustment of the fiscal year to calendar year US$100,000 was provided to cover the 6-month extension period.

According to Saydee-Tarr, for the 2022 calendar year, US$200,000 has been proposed by the Ministry of Labor to fight trafficking in persons.

The Gender boss mentioned that the Ministry of Labor has already received in cash US$300,000 for 2021. She said that the government has provided funding for law reform, prosecution, victim support and awareness.

Minister Tarr stated that the law reform was completed with the research, drafting, vetting, passage by the Legislature, signing into law by the President and publication by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Amendment to the Anti-Human Trafficking Law.

She emphasized that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has printed the TIP Law into handbills, and it has been delivered for more awareness and behavioral changes campaigns.

Minister Tarr noted that prosecution is on-going of six cases November 2021 term of court, and these cases could not be proceeded with because of the moratorium placed on jury trial occasioned by the COVID-19 second wave.

The Gender Head pointed out that the GoL contracted additional five seasoned lawyers to assist the MoL prosecute these cases and expedite police investigations.

She mentioned that on witness support, the government has several males and females from Sierra Leone and Ivory coast and Cameroon in its safe homes under its care and protections, with psycho-social support provided, the majority of whom complained of being victimized by a group known as Q-Net, an international syndicate operating under the pretense of being involved with trading via internet (like Amazon).

“Trafficking In Person” is a serious crime in Liberia and has been observed as one of the worst forms of human rights violation, with victims being mostly women and children; and the Ministry has been actively involved in preventing and responding to human trafficking through awareness raising and provision of shelter, psychosocial support and reunification of survivors, respectively”, the Minister added.

According to the report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), women make up 71 percent of trafficking victims, while children account for one third of the total number; notwithstanding, recent data have shown a sharp increase in the number of children that are being trafficked globally — practically in Sub-Sahara Africa.

The Gender Boss disclosed that humans are trafficked for several different reasons but sexual exploitation and forced labor remain the most prominent forms detected, with sexual exploitation accounting for 79 percent.

Minister Saydee-Tarr pointed out that Liberia’s accession to the Palermo Protocol on 22nd September 2004, provided a pathway for the country to be able to legally address Trafficking in Person.

She mentioned that the Government of Liberia through the Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force hired 10 lawyers to draft the new amendment of the 2005 Act to Ban TIP in Liberia and that he Amended Act was validated by the Anti-Human Trafficking Taskforce and sent to both the Lower and Upper Houses (the National Legislature) for passage.

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