Liberia: Labour Minister Warns of Punitive Measures Against Child Abusers

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Monrovia — The Chairman of the National Anti-Human Trafficking Taskforce, Labour Minister, Cllr. Charles H. Gibson says the taskforce is working on regulations that will ensure punitive measures for people who are engaged in human trafficking and child labor.

Cllr. Gibson said the Government of Liberia remains committed to ensuring that children are not abused in labour and that people are not trafficked as well as other nationals are not trafficked through our country.

Minister Gibson made these assertions at the official signing ceremony of a Memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the National Anti-Human Taskforce through the Ministry of Labour and five local NGOs in Liberia.

“Our engagement today to sign these contracts represents the government continuous commitment to ensuring that our children are not abused in the labor and that our people are not trafficked as well as other nationals are not trafficked through our country. We have identified five local NGOs to implement this project of creating educational and awareness raising campaign on human trafficking and child labour issues in five counties in Liberia namely: Bong, Nimba, Grand Cape Mount, Lofa and Montserrado Counties.”

Cllr. Gibson further noted that the awareness as enshrined in the contract is a bit different from the usual format of talk-shows and formal programs. He said the parties have come to the conclusion that most of the victims of child abuse are from the rural areas where their relatives will go and engage their parents with lot of hopes of bringing them to Monrovia and other cities in Liberia to go to school and when they get to these cities including Monrovia, instead of going to school, they are selling in the streets and communities.

Minister Gibson lamented that some of these children are working in places where children should not be working and as such, the taskforce will ensure that these messages reach to those who are victims and parents of victims noting that “We are going to use the medium of Town-criers in villages and public places.”

The Liberian Labour Minister said he hopes that with these engagements and signing of contracts with the five local NGOs will give the public sufficient notice that it is not going to be business as usual. “First and foremost, we are telling you to stop this act and these are the consequences if you don’t.

All Labour Commissioners are coming to Monrovia for one-week training by the International Labour Organization (ILO). As part of the training, a section on human trafficking and child labour will be made.

They are going back to the fifteen counties with resources to conduct trainer of trainer workshop. This training is being sponsored by the Ministry of Labour (MOL), the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) and the Liberia National Police (LNP).”

“This is a fight for all Liberians; these things must stop, we know that the money for the contracts are not enough, this is not NGOs money; it is the Government of Liberia money being entrusted to local NGOs, and we hope that you execute it well so that when bigger once comes, we could add up the number of NGOs to ten or more.  

For her part, Deputy Labour Minister for Administration, Atty. Yvette A. Freeman thanked all participants including the local NGOs who signed on to the program and noted that the issues of child labour and human trafficking are very important issues in our country.

According to her, fighting human trafficking and child labor is a huge task, but with the combine efforts of the Government of Liberia, local and international partners, Liberia can eliminate child labor and human trafficking.

In respond, a representative of the five local NGOs, Madam Roberta Freeman expressed thanks and appreciation to the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Labour for enhancing the capacity of Local NGOs in the fight against trafficking and child labor noting, that “this is the first time in the history of child advocacy in Liberia for local NGOs to be empowered by government to implement project on issues of human trafficking and child labor.”

The five local NGOs that entered the MOU with the Taskforce to conduct the educational and awareness raising campaign on trafficking and child labour are: National PTA Network of Liberia (NAPTANOL), Children Against Force Labour (CAFOL), Community Watch Forum of Liberia (CWFOL), National Coalition of Civil Society Organizations of Liberia (NACCSOL), and Liberia Association of Female Sociologists (LAFSO). The ceremony was held in the conference room of the Ministry of Labour, Ministerial Complex, Congo Town on Wednesday, February 17, 2021.   

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