Liberia: Anti-Human Trafficking Taskforce Investigates Cameroonian Lady for Allegedly Trafficking Three Compatriots
MONROVIA –Authorities in Monrovia have announced that the National Anti-Human Trafficking Taskforce of Liberia, headed by Minister of Labor, Cllr. Charles Gibson, and the Liberia National Police (LNP) are investigating a Cameroonian lady, identified as Violet Njuakon for allegedly trafficking three of her compatriots.
According to the Ministry of Labor (MOL) in a release issued on Thursday, preliminary investigation has gathered that Madam Njuakom attempted using Liberia as a point of transit to transport the trafficked Cameroonians to Poland and Mexico.
She is quoted as telling investigators at the LNP headquarters that she and her boyfriend, Gerald Ajongowe, came into the country three months ago with the hope of traveling to Canada, but their Liberian Agent only identified as “Amandu” asked that they wait because there is no opportunity for Canada at the time.
She said that while waiting in Liberia for an opening in Canada, her boyfriend communicated with three other persons (two males and a female) back home in Cameroon informing them that Liberia was a cheaper transit point to get to Europe and the Americas.
She said when the three got in Monrovia, she and her boyfriend took a room on 24th street where they kept them while their Agent Amandu worked on the necessary documents for their travel to Mexico and Poland at the cost of US$2,500 per person.
According to investigators, she explained that confusion broke out when her boyfriend who is currently out of the country, demanded US$3,500 from each of the victims, instead of US$2,500 earlier requested by agent Amandu. The confusion spilled and some concerned Liberians intervened and call in security officers.
Meanwhile, the lady is currently being held by the LNP for further investigations, while the victims are now in the Safe-Home of the National Anti-Human Trafficking Taskforce of Liberia.
The U.S. state department in its 2020 report stated that over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Liberia, and traffickers exploit victims from Liberia abroad. However, efforts are being made to curb the illegal trade.
Recently, the U.S. Embassy in Liberia congratulated the Liberian Legislature on its recent votes to amend the 2005 Anti-Human Trafficking law in keeping with international standards. In the statement, the U.S. Embassy said: “We urge the Liberian Government to maintain this momentum by following through with similarly substantive efforts to end the scourge of human trafficking in Liberia, including by addressing the other recommendations found in the 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report.”
In the report, the State Department, among other things, called for the amendment of the 2005 anti-trafficking law to remove the requirement of force, fraud, or coercion in child sex trafficking cases, the 2005 anti-trafficking law to prescribe penalties for adult trafficking that are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with the penalties for other grave crimes; expand victim services—particularly for victims outside the capital, males, and victims requiring long-term care—through increased financial or in-kind support to government and NGO shelters.
It also called for increasing efforts to more vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking cases, including internal trafficking cases and officials accused of complicity; and in partnership with international organizations and experts, train and equip law enforcement, immigration officials, labor inspectors, and social workers to more effectively identify trafficking victims, as well as to identify, investigate, and prosecute trafficking offenses as well as the continued provision of operating and victim protection budgets and in-kind resources, as feasible, to the anti-trafficking task force.