The New Dawn (Monrovia)

Liberia: Lebanese Busted for Sex Trade and Human Trafficking

A 44-year-old Lebanese national identified as Anthon Kassiblie is currently in Police custody undergoing investigation for alleged human trafficking and sex trade. Kassiblie was arrested by Police in Monrovia following a tip-off.

He is said to have brought into Liberia a total of seven foreign girls, six Moroccans and one Tunisian under the guise of providing them employment in a bar and restaurant with a salary of US$1000 each.

Police authorities say instead, Kassiblie has been using the girls as sex slaves in exchange for money. Police spokesman Sam Collins told reporters the girls are currently being counseled at a safe home in Monrovia.

Collins noted that the girls are mentally distressed and traumatized as a result of treatments they received from Kassiblie, adding that the victims told Police that they were ill-treated and beaten by Kassiblie if they refused to adhere to his demands.

The Police spokesman disclosed that Kassiblie, who operates the Caroline Frozen Food Center on Bushrod Island also runs a bar and restaurant where the victims are kept as sex commodities for his mostly Lebanese friends and other foreign investors. The Caroline Frozen Food Center was recently fined by the Commerce Ministry and temporally shut down for selling rotten chicken and fish on the Liberian market.

This paper has gathered that the girls obtained an electronic Liberian visa to come here, but Police say investigation was ongoing to establish who sent the electronic visas abroad to the commercial sex workers. Another Lebanese national was held here for abusing a male minor.

At the launch of an anti-rape campaign in Monrovia early this year under the theme, Stand Up Against Rape, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf noted that most rape victims in Liberia are children from three months to 14 years, including both girls and boys. Lebanese in Liberia are requesting for citizenship.

The President of the World Lebanese Culture Union in the country, Mr. Ezzat N. Eid, reiterated the request recently, said it was time that the Government of Liberia sees reason to grant them (Lebanese) such status as naturalized citizens.

Mr. Eid with investments here worth over hundreds of millions across the country, including the Royal Grand Hotel, said Lebanese who have stayed here for many years, want to be citizens to live here with their families as any other Liberian.

"We are not forcing government to give us (all Lebanese) citizenship. All we want is that, any Lebanese without a criminal record who desire a Liberian citizenship must be given that opportunity at least to apply. This is all we asked of the government and the people of Liberia, we have businesses here; we are investing in the economy", said Eid.

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