Liberia: Labor Minister Craves American Government's Support in Curbing Human Trafficking in Liberia

Monrovia — Labor Minister Moses Kollie has pleaded with the US Government to help Liberia improves its capacity to completely stop child labor and human trafficking in the country.

"We need to request that you kindly buttress the efforts of the national government by providing support in the areas of training of immigration officers, labor inspectors, Police officers and trafficking case prosecutors for the taskforce to be more robust," Minister Kollie said on Tuesday, June 30.

Speaking at a press conference at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town, Minister Kollie said if the capacity of law enforcement officers is beef-up to combat these vices, it will pave the way to eradicate the menace.

This, according to the Minister, is because Liberia is a signatory to several international protocols on trafficking and child labor and must work to go above its current position at Tier 2.

Being at Tier 2 means the country is not fully complying with the minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance, while Tier-1 are countries that fully comply with the Trafficking-in-Persons (TIPs) Act minimum standard for the elimination of trafficking.

"This government under the leadership of President Weah has developed special interest in stepping up the fight against trafficking-in-persons and today the administration has proven its preparedness," Minister Kollie averred.

In the latest human trafficking report by the US State Department, Liberia moves to Tier 2 after being the Tier 2 watch list for more than three years.

The progress in the latest report means a sanction that would have seen the country miss out on over US$100 million in non-humanitarian aid has been significantly averted.

Minister Kollie said the 2020 U.S State Department's report will not make Liberia complacent about the ongoing fight against child labor and trafficking but will enhance the government's efforts against TIPs, adding that the government will make a budgetary allocation for the fight against TIPs in the 2020/2021 budget.

"This budget will be for the work of the National Taskforce and we can assure you that we will re-double our efforts," he said.

Also making remarks, Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister Williametta Piso Saydee Tarr called on the public to report cases of child labor and trafficking in their communities.

"People take children from the interior and bring them to the city without sending them to school, while some are selling on the streets, so if you notice anyone bringing in a child from the interior into your community, you have to find out why that child was brought in," Minister Tarr said.

She promised to continue working with the Ministry of Labor to ensure more awareness against human trafficking and child labor to sustain the gains.

For her part, the Charge d' Affaires at the US Embassy, Alyson Grunder noted that Liberia's achievement reflects a possible U.S - Liberia partnership, which is a result from two years of sustainable hard work.

"The government of Liberia showed increasing efforts against trafficking by developing a new National Action Plan, allocating for the first time since 2014 a budget for trafficking in person task force, increasing investigation, and increasing the identification of victims," Madam Grunder stated.

She added that the State Department Report highlights Liberia's efforts to stop domestic trafficking of children for force labor and street selling. However, she stressed that more work needs to be done.

Madam Grunder furthered that the US government is willing to support Liberia in the training of law enforcement personnel, advising prosecutors and working with the Ministry of Labor to stop child labor.

"In September 2019, US Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking-in-Persons, John Cotton Richmond visited Liberia and met with President George M. Weah along with key members of his cabinet," she recalled.

"President Weah has committed his support to this and we are now seeing the result of that sustained support."

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