By Morrison O.G. Sayon
A five-year National Action Plan on Anti-Human Trafficking has been launched in the country with a commitment by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to combat such heinous crime. The five-year National Action Plan on Human Trafficking which was launched yesterday in Monrovia and launching the Action Plan, President Sirleaf said the Liberian Government is prepared to fight human trafficking throughout the country.
The Liberian leader described human trafficking as evil, wicked and a heinous crime that has no place in the society. Madam Sirleaf therefore called on Liberians to combat human trafficking with serious force to ensure that such crime becomes history in Liberia.
Pres. Sirleaf then expressed government’s commitment in fighting against human trafficking vigorously noting that anyone caught in practising such evil act be prosecuted. Madam Sirleaf said the launch of the five-year National Action Plan clearly demonstrates that government is ready and prepared to combat the crime.
Also speaking, United States Ambassador to Liberia, Debora Malac, expressed the US Government’s commitment in supporting Liberia to eradicate human trafficking. Amb. Malac said for Liberia to properly combat human trafficking, state security including the police, the Bureau of Immigration and others must be adequately trained.
The US envoy added that there can be no prosecution without arrest saying, “That is why it is important to first train security forces to ensure that those involved in human trafficking are arrested and prosecuted. Amb. Malac stressed the need for community members to be trained to report trafficking.
Among other things, she said, “Our fight is one of great cause and that the US Government will stand by Liberia by showing concrete commitment in joining your country to fight against human trafficking.” She added that the issue of human trafficking is not unique to Liberia but other countries around the world including the United States.
Giving an overview of the five-year action plan, Labor Minister, Juah Lawson said it is well documented that trafficking in persons is one of the biggest violations of human rights in the world. Cllr. Lawson said statistics have shown that, yearly, women, men and children are victims of this crime either in their country of origin or abroad, of which Liberia is of no exception.
She noted that emerging from a devastation of fourteen years of civil crisis complemented by the gradual but steady restoration of the rule of law, human trafficking, among other Transnational Organized Crimes, have become a major post-conflict national security challenge.
Responding to this situation and recognizing the significance of putting in place the requisite legal framework to deal with matters of human trafficking in Liberia according to Cllr. Lawson, 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 which is gaining momentum.
She said as 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 internationally organized crime.
She said it was predicated upon that that President Sirleaf in her quest to continue the fight against human trafficking constituted a special Anti-Human Trafficking Taskforce (AHTT) with line ministries and agencies of Government, to lead and direct the national fight against this heinous crime in Liberia. Cllr. Lawson added that the National Task force drafted the Action Plan and presented it to Cabinet in October, 2013 which was endorsed as Government’s official road map in the fight against Trafficking in Persons (TIPs). “This National Action Plan is presented for Liberia and other stakeholders to combat human trafficking. It will enhance the rule of law, security and institutional reforms in the country.”
Among other things, she pointed out that the National Action Plan against human trafficking represents an illustration of commitment on the part of Government to match other prior actions it had taken in terms of basic national benchmarks and international instrument. She said the Plan encompasses clearly defined sets of programmed strategies aimed at concretely dealing with all matters of human trafficking within the bailiwick of this of Liberia in a much coordinated and sustained manner.