• By: Richard Manuba

MONROVIA-On Wednesday, August 20, 2021, I had the privilege of sharing audience with ranking members of the Honorable Liberian Senate, and, as well, the Honorable House of Representatives. Specific authorities from the two Houses at the “Trafficking In Person” Symposium were Chairpersons and ranking members of the respective committees on Labour, and Judiciary, US Embassy consultant, Gender Ministry, Immigration Service officials, members and partners to the National Anti-Human Trafficking Taskforce. The brainstorming session or symposium, if you may,was organized by the Ministry of Labour in an effort to draw up stakeholders’ input and participation in revising the final draft of “An Act of the National Legislature to Amend Certain Provisions of an Act to Ban Human Trafficking.”

This move, in my collection during the exchanges is intently meant to give the Trafficking In Person (TIP) Act of April, 2013, a sharper teeth to bite in terms of bringing human traffickers before the Law for prosecution, thus ensuring that they (convicted criminals) are held liable for their crimes and to make restitution (s) to the victims who would have suffered psychological, emotional, health and bodily injuries resulting from their undesired geographical relocation for the deceptive purpose of exploitation of various kinds.

The reason why I see that Trafficking In Person (TIP) working session carrying a lot of national relevance is that it is a paradigm shift and a total breakaway from What we sometime ago regularly experienced from especially foreign development partners who craft all by themselves, with legal aid plus involvement of the particular government institution, a proposed amendment to a constitutional item and attempt to have it passed into law without any degree of regard for Lawmakers on the committee to which the piece of proposed legislation is attentioned. This, was arguably, one such reason why some of our proposed legislations lingered in committee rooms because stakeholders consultation involving the Legislative Committee (s) of concern, was not done at all.

Now that the Labour Minister Cllr. Gibson has given the relevant committees on Labour and Judiciary a greater involvement in what is in the package of the Act to Ban Human Trafficking In Liberia, the respective committees have full insight into the purposes and intents of the TIP Law when amended and passed. To this point, it is an obvious hats off to the Labour Minister which I won’t hesitate to do because of the level of promptness he, his team of administrators at the Ministry have implored in heeding to the US Government’s unfavorable concerns about the crime of Human Trafficking In Liberia. The United States of America (USA) put out a caveat just recently that our [Liberia] failure to strengthen our laws on Trafficking In Person (TIP) could have the propensity of the West African Country (Liberia) losing millions of dollars in US Government’s support to various development projects here.

In a bid to achieving the rigidity of the Anti-Human Trafficking Law to making it sterner in punishment for persons convicted of TIP crimes, it is also noteworthy from a development communications standpoint for me to commend the Labour Minister who heads the National Taskforce, for bringing in the professional services of five (5) erudite Lawyers who have collaboratively worked along with partners including the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), Gender Ministry, among others in coming up with a final draft that addresses mainly; (a) Prosecution (b) Restitution for victims (c) Safe Home for victims (d) Penalties including long term imprisonment, etcetera. When we listen to advice from the American government this way, we create a conducive atmosphere of better coexistence as diplomatic partners in developing our Country still recovering from the shackles of civil crises. With available friendly assistance from the likes of the International Labour Organization (ILO) UN, USA, IDLO, UNFPA, etc,  Liberia cannot and must not fail on enacting laws strong and rigid enough to discourage human traffickers from choosing our country as an easy route for Trafficking In Person.

Human Trafficking is not only a domestic crime, but a transnational one which is a modern slavery that takes away the dignity of the human being. In South Africa alone, 155,000 people are living in the modern slavery of Human Trafficking according to the Global Slavery Index Report of 2020. According to the International Labour Organization of the United Nations, criminals involved with human trafficking make a whooping USD$2 billion annually; equivalent to R2 trillion South African Rand, making Trafficking In Person one of the largest international crime industries. Now that the Ministry of Labour has taken significant steps towards amending the Anti-Human Trafficking Act of 2012, enacted and printed into Handbill on April 29, 2013, we remain engaged with following up on the process to strengthen the Law through the latest amendment being prayed for at the Legislature.

Whilst we are seeking to Amend prosecutorial provisions of the law, there are already five (5) pending cases before the Labour Ministry, which hopes are high that the alleged criminals could face the Law during this term of Court. To protect the victims, the Labour Ministry has secured one safe-home in Monrovia; another commendable initiative.

ABOUT THE WRITER: Richard Manuba (Mr.), is a career Journalist with experience spanning over a decade and half. He’s proficient in general media work, combining professional journalism skills with effective and efficient public relations and corporate brand promotion for excellent productivity. Both public and private sector institutions have benefitted from the expertise of this Liberian media specialist. Richard Manuba can be reached via: +231886487803

Email: professionalrfm@gmail.com


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