YESTERDAY, AT THE regular weekly Press briefing of the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), the Government of Liberia (GOL) through the Ministry of Labor announced that a five-year National Action Plan in the fight against the trafficking of human beings within the Republic will be launched. The Minister of Labor, Madam F. Juah Lawson, disclosed that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is expected to officially launch the plan on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at the Monrovia City Hall.
TO ADD MORE grease to the process, Minister Lawson disclosed that officials of Government, members of the diplomatic corps, the United Nations (UN) System, Civil Society groupings, the Liberia Labor Congress (LLC), the Liberia Chamber of Commerce (LCC), National Traditional Council among other dignitaries will be in attendance at the launch. Minister Lawson, giving a background of the National Action Plan said Liberia emerging from a 14-year civil crisis complemented by the gradual restoration of the rule of law, human trafficking, among other Transnational Organized Crimes, has become a major post-conflict national security challenge.
THE MINISTER ALSO noted that in response to this situation, and recognizing the significance of putting in place the requisite legal framework to deal with matters of human trafficking in Liberia, the Transitional Legislative Assembly of the National Transitional Government in 2005 passed an act that banned and criminalized all forms of human trafficking in Liberia.
MINISTER LAWSON FURTHER noted that the Act specifically established that Trafficking In Persons (TIP) shall mean “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of a person by means of the threat or use of force or other means of coercion, or by abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability, or by the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation”.
MINISTER JUAH LAWSON also averred that recently as April, 2013, the Government of Liberia also amended the Penal Law regarding Extortion, Environmental Crimes, Trafficking in Human Beings and Illicit Migrant Smuggling, thereby re-enforcing the legal framework responsible for dealing with these inter-related international organized crime. She said, “The Ministry of Labor as head of the Anti-Human Trafficking Task force is mandated by the President to lead and direct the national fight against this heinous crime in Liberia. It works in close collaboration with line ministries and agencies of Government including the Ministry of Justice as co-chair, in leading this campaign.”
AS LIBERIA AS a nation looks forward to a safe and secured global environment in which the dignity of the world’s women and children and vulnerable would be respected and protected, it can not afford to allow Human Trafficking and other Transnational Organized continue to be the order of the day on her shores. Thus the need for the prompt implementation of this Five Year National Action Plan against Human Trafficking cannot be over-emphasized. As member of the global community, Liberia cannot afford to be left behind or relegated in the fight against transnational crimes or make her territory to be a base where criminal minded individuals can come and perpetuate the unlawful deeds.
THIS IS WHY this Action Plan must be welcomed and put on the front page of our national endeavors for implementation. However, this implementation would be impossible if the necessary apparatus such as a serious awareness campaign through a major media campaign which would encourage and give knowledge to Liberians on the issue is not instituted. The awareness must be conducted in a way that even people residing in the remotest parts of the country can have knowledge of what Human Trafficking is and those numerous transnational crimes the exercise intends to curtail.
TO ENSURE GOVERNMENT’S seriousness on the issue, let this Action Plan not be an event only for March 25, 2014 but a continuous awareness process that will include all Liberians and foreign nationals residing within our borders using the laws on the books. We therefore need to have this ugly act curtailed or at least minimize same to its lowest ebb. Indeed let this plan not be an event but process that can bring lasting results.