Liberia: Booming Green Logging Company Refutes Allegations of Human Trafficking
Buchanan – The management of Booming Green Liberia, a logging company, has refuted allegations linking the company to human trafficking, slave labor and sexual abuse.
In a recent publication of a local daily, it was alleged that the company’s premises were raided on Thursday, February 27, by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), who rescued seven Chinese and Malaysian nationals, including two females believed to have been trafficked into the country.
Booming Green Liberia Management’s Response
But Booming Green Liberia’s Deputy Managing Director, Yong Heng Liu, speaking to a team of reporters at the company’s log yard in Big Joe Town, on the outskirts of Buchanan City, refuted the allegation, terming it as a smear campaign intended to undermine and tarnish the company’s reputation.
“I want to make this categorically clear, that at no time did any of our females workers have been used as sex slaves. The news is not factual at all. It is false and misleading. They are our employees; we respect their rights,” Mr. Liu emphasized.
He said the company is law-abiding and does its activities within the confines of the law.
Liu, who was speaking on behalf of the company’s Manager, Jerry Wang (currently out of Liberia) expressed regret over the failure of such reputable paper to contact the company for response before publication.
He threatened that the company will take the author of the story to court for such “unethical reportage” intended to tarnish the hard-earned reputation of the company.
“Booming Green,” he added, “is an international company that has branches in several parts of Africa and the world.” He further stated that the company had been in existence 15 years before it came to Liberia.
Grand Bassa Police Chief’s Response
According to that local daily, the foreign nationals were being held at the Fair Ground Police Station in Buchanan, where they explained to the LNP, the circumstances leading to their trafficking by an executive of the company.
But in a telephone interview with the Police Commander of Grand Bassa County, Sackor Freeman on Saturday, February 29, he denied ever collaborating with the LACC to investigate an alleged human trafficking case.
He said, the investigation of trafficking is solely the responsibility of the LNP and there is no record of any such investigation at the Fair Ground Police Station as reported.
“We don’t know anything about the trafficking and money laundering case; any investigation about trafficking should be the police and not Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission,” Freeman said.
“We don’t have any case of trafficking at the police station. The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission is a recognized government institution that investigates corruption, and the police investigate trafficking. But the case is not with the police.”
FPA also contacted the LACC about the alleged probe but there was no response up to the time of publication.
Alleged Trafficked Workers’ Response
A team of investigative reporters met with all six workers at the company’s yard near Buchanan.
Jane Doe (not real name), who speaks English fluently, on behalf of his colleagues said they were not trafficked, and are living and working comfortably to support themselves and their family back home.
“As you can see, we are living a comfortable life than we can ever imagine. Our company is taking care of us. The news that we are being trafficked and raped is false,” he debunked.
“The first thing our living place is good. We live here and get a meal three times a day. We have AC and 24/7 electricity. We enjoy everything over here. We are working and are well paid.”
Jane explained that he arrived in Liberia in July 2018 and has since been willingly working with the company.
Also speaking, one of the two female workers, Sylvia Young (not real name) staunchly refuted the report that she and her friend are being sexually abused by the company’s officials. She said they are doing their job harmoniously.
“We are not sex slaves. We did not come here as sex slaves. Where did that information come from? I did not give any statement at the police station that day. So, how did that information come up, I don’t know,” she stated.
“I am just doing my work. We are harmoniously doing our own job professionally. Everything in that article is nothing really true.”
Ruby told reporters that she currently serves as an accounting clerk, while her colleague, Mina serves as their cook.
Who Is Conducting The Investigation?
According to the workers’ spokesperson, Jane, a group of people in plainclothes stormed the company’s operation yard on Thursday, February 27, and with no search warrant or official communication authorizing them to conduct any search or investigation, began searching their rooms and offices.
Jane added that they were shocked with the action and allegations that they were being trafficked when they got to the Fair Ground Police Station.
Jane explained: “They never showed us any official communication from Government or whatsoever. They were just rushing coming inside, asking us to open all the doors. We asked what happened and they told us to come with them to the police station.”
“When we got there, they asked us to give a voluntary statement. I am the one who gave the statement. They asked us the date of arrival on the LACC form and it is a voluntary statement. The date of arrival, how the company treating us when we will be leaving. We told them that we are working happily and the company is doing well for us and paying us well.”
He said investigators had earlier promised that the interview would have lasted for 15 minutes, but they stayed there for an hour.
He expressed dismay over the report and pointed out that it may cause psychological effects for them and their family back home.
“For us being Malaysians, it is alarming. Imagine our families hearing this kind of fake news, they won’t allow us to be here. The reason we came is to get something extra to help ourselves and family and to make a living.”