In Part Three of This Three phase sequence Anthony Stephens appears to be like on the Liberian executive’s efforts to get difficult on human trafficking.

In September 2021 the Liberian executive despatched a sign it was once getting difficult on human trafficking. The Legislature handed a revision to a 2005 regulation expanding the jail sentence for any individual discovered in charge of all types of intercourse and hard work trafficking to at least two decades. It had prior to now been twelve months.

“This law serves as a caveat to anyone that wants to engage in human trafficking,” mentioned Cllr. Wesseh A. Wesseh, Liberia’s Acting Solicitor General who denounced human trafficking as “modern day slavery”. “That also shows to you that we are on top of our game to ensure that we curtail, minimize, or combat trafficking in persons at all costs. It means that the government is very serious, and that the government is very committed to ensure that nobody is trafficked.”

But the federal government did not actually have another selection. International trafficking of girls as home staff was once hovering, so was once trafficking of kids inside Liberia. Inaction by way of the federal government had put the rustic at the Tier 2 Watchlist of the United States’ Trafficking in Persons Report. One extra yr at the Watchlist and the rustic risked sanctions together with a reduce in support.

The annual Trafficking In Persons Report is the USA executive’s main diplomatic instrument for attractive overseas governments on human trafficking. Liberia were at the Tier 2 watchlist from 2017 to 2019. After twelve months off the watchlist in 2020 it went again on it once more in 2021. To get again up the ratings the federal government larger investigations, prosecutions and convictions and gave extra finances to NGOS to boost consciousness. It established the Anti-Trafficking Unit inside the Labor Ministry and, for the primary time, employed attorneys devoted to prosecuting trafficking instances.

And with US lend a hand, the federal government revised the brand new regulation. “Without the US government it would have been very difficult to craft this new law,” says Wesseh. “They have provided training for our lawyers. They have hired consultants for us.”

The new regulation is “among the most stringent in Africa, if not the world,” says Sean Boda, Public Affairs Officer for the USA Embassy in Liberia who applauded the federal government’s movements. But he warned it is going to want to take additional steps to stick off the watchlist. Shelter services and products and give a boost to for NGOS serving to sufferers stays inadequate in step with the record. And “a lack of resources, including, but not limited to, financial, technical, personnel, tools and equipment, pose serious challenges in enforcing the law.”

Boda says police “lack basic resources (including gasoline for vehicles) and equipment to fully respond to and investigate allegations of trafficking, especially outside the capital. Courts operated at reduced capacity and processed fewer cases due to pandemic-related restrictions.”

The regulation got here into position simply in time. Early in 2022 tales began coming from the Arabian Gulf state of Oman making it transparent {that a} new wave of Liberian sufferers was once being trafficked there. Law enforcement started prosecuting the traffickers.

The new regulation was once used to prosecute and convict 8 traffickers in step with the 2022 Trafficking In Persons record. In April Criminal Court “A” sentenced Retina Capehart, 31, to two decades in jail for trafficking 10 Liberian ladies to Oman. Capehart was once additionally fined $US5,000. The courtroom additionally sentenced Regina Keppa alias, Aisha Kelleh, to two decades for trafficking greater than seven Liberian ladies to Oman.

The executive celebrated the ones sentences as main victories in its anti-human trafficking combat.

In the 4 years prior to the brand new regulation got here into impact the federal government had prosecuted seven instances with the former regulation. Five of the ones have been gained, whilst one, in Lofa County, resulted in a hung verdict. The case is to be retried.

Cornelius Wennah prosecuted the ones instances when he was once head of Felonious Crimes on the Justice Ministry. Wennah is now pass judgement on of Criminal Court “E” in Bong County. Wennah were a prosecutor for over a decade and served as county legal professional for Bong, Grand Bassa and Bomi Counties. One of the main instances he prosecuted noticed Revival Womo Sam, a Nigerian Pastor, convicted of trafficking a Liberian youngster to Nigeria the place he impregnated her. Sam lured the woman below the pretense of curing her “spiritual” curse. He was once sentenced to ten years in jail.

“Human trafficking is a very big problem,” says Wennah. “People who are victimized, people who give their loved ones or their children who are subsequently, subjected to conditions of exploitation, actually do not understand, what trafficking is. Their perception is that their family members are going to seek greener pastures.”

Wennah says a large a part of his paintings has simply been to open the eyes of voters eyes to a topic that has plagued the rustic. That paintings was once aided this yr when he was once awarded a US Statement Department Trafficking In Persons hero award–one of 5 recipients of the yearly award. He says Liberia’s reputation was once key to making sure the federal government carries thru with the wanted reforms.

“Prior to receiving that award, Liberia had been placed in the category of countries that were doing very little or nothing to combat trafficking,” says Wennah. “This award coincided with Liberia being elevated to tier two, which means that Liberia has been recognized as being a country doing something to fight trafficking.”

Wennah praises the brand new regulation, believing it is going to instill worry in alleged traffickers.

“The law in itself is very stringent,” he says. “The measures against those who will be found guilty is very, very harsh. It is a very strong, deterring force.”

But even with its anti-human trafficking strides, Liberia nonetheless struggles to prosecute alleged traffickers and to give a boost to sufferers. Wennah has the same opinion and urges the federal government to deal with those problems.

“In the absence of these basic implements that should ensure that the work is smoothly carried out, there will be a lot of hindrances in the progress that we can make as a people,” Wennah says.

Organizations that offer bodily and psychosocial give a boost to for sufferers are longing for give a boost to to do extra. World Hope International Liberia is one group that has helped repatriated ladies from Oman. 25 ladies have sought their lend a hand says Princess Taire, Social Protection Coordinator. But the group is financially stretched and may best serve a dozen of girls.

“They need to do more, especially in victim care,” says Taire. “Majority of the people are here but they have not gotten any service aftercare intervention.” The ladies’s wishes are nice in step with Taire. “They are still crying, having flashbacks, having nightmares, and sleeping and eating disorders.”