Labor Minister Outlines Liberia’s To-Do List To Pass US Next Human Trafficking Report

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Labor Minister Moses Kollie speaking at the Trafficking In Persons media training in Monrovia

Monrovia – Liberia’s Labor Minister Moses Kollie has warned that in order for the country to improve on the United States Trafficking in Persons report expected to be released by March 21, 2020, several required actions need to be undertaken by the government.

Liberia is already on Tier Three watch list of the TIPs report, which puts the country in a very critical situation, and risks slipping further down to Tier Three if significant steps are not taken to tackle human trafficking in the country.

Aware of the task at hand, Minister Kollie stressed that improving legal and policy frameworks, instituting administrative action by ensuring budget for the purpose of enhancing the work of taskforce, improving prevention and awareness, protecting and caring of victims by training social workers are important steps that must be taken to salvage the country’s status in the next report.

Also identifying partnerships for complementary budget to support the taskforce as well as adopting zero tolerance against human trafficking are important to averting the risks of falling to a lower tier.

“If we should perform, and look at these actions as a country, I’m very certain that by March 2020 when the [US] State Department will be coming out with another quarter report, Liberia will be pretty seated,” he said confidently on Wednesday at the inception meeting in Sinkor, Monrovia at the launch of a media project focusing on TIP.

“If we should perform, and look at these actions as a country, I’m very certain that by March 2020 when the [US] State Department will be coming out with another quarter report, Liberia will be pretty seated.” – Moses Kollie, Minister of Labor

The Labor Minister also stressed that the government has the political will to ensure that human trafficking is eradicated from the country and is working with local and international partners in the global fight against human trafficking.

Commenting on the progress Liberia has made so far, he said the second national action plan of TIP has been endorsed by President George Weah as an instrument for the next five years – 2019 – 2024. This includes a referral mechanism to guide the implementation of the plan to combat TIPs.

He said the government “was able to take care” of victims of trafficking and has successfully tried and convicted one perpetrator – a very infinitesimal feat.  

However, Minister Kollie said that Government is prepared and willing to further strengthen its partnership to achieve the four key TIP thematic areas – prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership.

There’s already a taskforce composed of several actors of the security sector and other relevant line ministries and agencies. But the taskforce faces lack of budgetary support and has not received allotment since 2015.

“I can assure you that in this 2019/2020 budget, the government of Liberia is inclined to do that,” he said of luring funding for the Taskforce.

Last June, for a third consecutive year, the U.S. State Department placed Liberia on the Tier 2 Watch List in its annual Trafficking in Persons report. 

This ranking reflects the U.S. Government’s assessment that the Government of Liberia is not fully in compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking that regulate U.S. foreign assistance, says USAID Acting Mission Director Rebekah Eubanks at the program.

Continued Eubanks: “What this means for Liberia and Liberian trafficking survivors is troubling in its own right. But it also has important implications for the future of U.S. assistance to Liberia,” she said, stressing that the Government “must put into place and enforce policies that demonstrate increased efforts to combat human trafficking, investigate and prosecute traffickers, and protect survivors by early next year.”

She also warned that if something is not done Liberia will be downgraded to Tier 3, and lose access to all U.S. government non-humanitarian development funds.

At the same time, Eubanks assured that “USAID is committed to working with our partners” to help Liberia averts the risks of losing US funds.

“We are looking across our programming to identify ways we can support Liberian efforts to counter trafficking across the country. That is why we are here today,” said the USAID Acting Mission Director.

“What this means for Liberia and Liberian trafficking survivors is troubling in its own right. But it also has important implications for the future of U.S. assistance to Liberia,” she said, stressing that the Government “must put into place and enforce policies that demonstrate increased efforts to combat human trafficking, investigate and prosecute traffickers, and protect survivors by early next year.” – Rebekah Eubanks, USAID Acting Mission Director

Earlier, the Labor Minister lauded the Liberia Media Development program implemented by Internews Liberia with funding from USAID for embarking on training of journalists to report on TIP in the country. Participating journalists will go on to train others in order to roll out the program, which will involves extensive reporting of TIP issues in the country.

Minister Kollie assured that the Ministry will sustain partnership with other actors including journalists “because you are going to help us through the media …, we now know that the message will go across the country.”

Also, USAID Acting Director Eubanks encouraged media practitioners, who are “the gatekeeper and distributor of information” to play a critical role by “raising important issues, facilitating public debate, and holding leaders to account”.

“Over the course of the next three days, you will deepen your understanding and broaden your perspective on issues related to human trafficking. You will learn the details of Liberia’s country profile on human trafficking and its focus on domestic or internal trafficking,” she said.

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