Liberia: Government Must Investigate and Prosecute Alleged Human Trafficking Involving Qnet International

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WHEN LIBERIA WAS RECENTLY graded as a Tier 2 country on the 2020 U.S State Department’s Human Trafficking Report, there were celebrations that the country had made inroads in its efforts against modern day slavery. The progress in that report averted a possible sanction that would have seen Liberia miss out on over US$100 million in non-humanitarian grants from the U.S Government

WHEN THE REPORT WAS RELEASED, the US Embassy stated that “the Government of Liberia has demonstrated sufficient progress to be elevated” after evaluation by the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIPs).”

“THIS OUTCOME REFLECTS THE DEDICATED efforts of the Government of Liberia to fight human trafficking, as well as the achievements possible through U.S.-Liberia partnership,” the release dated June 25 stated.

SO, WHAT DID THAT REPORT DO? We think It has up the ante on our relationship with the US Government. And if we want to keep “working together” with the US Government as was stressed by the US Embassy when the report was released in late last month, we must be more robust and dedicated in dealing with this menace of human trafficking.

THIS PROGRESS, HAS NO DOUBT, given the country some traction in its effort against human tracking – from a global perspective. This, we cannot deny. But the government must do more by curbing ongoing human trafficking taking places right under our noses.

NEWS OF DOZENS OF YOUNG BOYS being allegedly trafficked into Liberia from neighboring countries – mainly Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Mali – are troubling and must be investigated. These foreign nationals are allegedly being brought into the country by Qnet International, a company involves in the business of networking.

WHEN WE DOUBLE CHECKED the name and information of the company, it shows that Qnet is a multi-level marketing company owned by the QI Group with headquarters in Hong Kong, the People’s Republic of China. However, FPA was unable to establish the direct link between the company in Liberia and the one in Hong Kong. And it is unclear whether those transporting the foreign nationals to Liberia are acting under the instructions of the company. Forget all the missing links, we suggest a prompt investigation into this alleged trafficking.

MEANWHILE, ALTHOUGH THIS NEWS APPEARS TO BE shocking, we think if law enforcement officers were a bit vigilant, they would have tracked and investigated this ring of trafficking that seems to have been going on for many years.

WE SAY THIS BECAUSE, according to a resident of Neezoe Community – one of the communities where 27 of the young foreigners are being allegedly kept – told our reporter that agents of the NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY was the first to inquire about the presence of dozens of strange foreign nationals in the community.

“Some security guys from the NSA saw them and interviewed them as to why young people of different nationals, who cannot speak fluent Liberian English, have conglomerated,” said the resident.

PROBABLY, THE NSA AGENTS WERE CONCERNED about averting an insurgency by foreigners, but it was important that they informed other security apparatus once they found no clue of a possible insurrection.

ONE OF THE MAJOR ELEMENTS of human trafficking is the movement of people from one place to another under the false impression that they will be given opportunities – job, education or whatever. So, we think the Liberian Immigration Service and the Liberia National Police, the two major law enforcement bodies clothed with the authority to combat trafficking, should be more circumspect whenever they observe a large movement of people – foreigners or Liberians.

WHETHER THE NSA OFFICER informed the relevant law enforcement office or not, we hold strongly that something should have been done. We cannot allow Liberia to be a recruitment ground for traffickers. It puts our country’s reputation in jeopardy and will obviously undercut the gains we have made in the US State Department’s 2020 report. We cannot afford to roll back the gains.

NOW THAT THE MEDIA HAS UNCOVERED this alleged ring of human trafficking, we expect the authorities to exert all efforts by investigating and prove to the world that we are ready to help stop this modern day slavery despite our challenges.

TAKING MORE ROBUST STEPS will garner more support and give Liberia a better rating on international human rights index. We also know that it will also improve our chances of even doing better on the next US Human trafficking grade sheet. Combatting human trafficking will bring lots of monetary incentives, we are convinced.

BUT IT IS NOT JUST THESE INCENTIVES we are concerned about. We know that a country like ours must lead the fight against human trafficking and show to the world that we value humanity like any other civilized nation.

THEREFORE, WE ARE URGING major actors leading the fight against human trafficking to synchronize their various resources and investigate the alleged human trafficking incident involving Qnet.

THIS SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED another one-week-story that tends to vanish from the media after a week of reporting. We are committed to getting to the root of this crime and we call on the Liberia National Police and the Liberia Immigration Service as well as the National Human Trafficking Taskforce at the Ministry of Labor to do their jobs.

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