Home Governance Abuse Awash Liberia… As Officials Complicity, Corruption, Remain Significant Concerns In Trafficking Crimes

Abuse Awash Liberia… As Officials Complicity, Corruption, Remain Significant Concerns In Trafficking Crimes

by newsmanager

By: Linda Gbartie
MONROVIA: Trafficking inside Liberia is more prevalent than transnational trafficking.

“Traffickers recruit and exploit most trafficking victims in the country’s borders in domestic servitude, forced begging, sex trafficking, or forced labor in street vending, gold and alluvial diamond mines, and on small-scale rubber plantations,” revealed the United States 2024 Trafficking report.

According to the latest report, Liberia’s law enforcement officials continued to lack adequate understanding of trafficking and resources to effectively investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes.

The report, released on Monday, June 24, 2024, by the U.S. Department of State indicated that the Government of Liberia does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.

Over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Liberia, and traffickers exploit (abuse) victims from Liberia abroad.

“The government prosecuted fewer traffickers and did not convicts any traffickers. Law enforcement officials continued to lack adequate resources and understanding of trafficking to effectively investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes.

“ Victim services remained insufficient, and the government referred significantly fewer trafficking victims to care.

“The government did not allocate adequate funding for anti-trafficking efforts, and concerns of official complicity remained. Therefore, Liberia was downgraded to Tier 2 Watch List,” the report stated.

Liberian law requires parents to register children within 14 days of birth; while about two-thirds of children younger than the age of five are registered, only about 30 percent have obtained a birth certificate.

Although the government has expanded birth registration accessibility, continued lack of birth registration and identity documents increase individuals’ vulnerability to trafficking.

The government investigated nine trafficking cases involving 13 suspects and continued investigations of six cases involving nine suspects, compared with investigating eight trafficking cases involving 12 suspects in the previous reporting period and initiated the prosecution of one defendant, compared with prosecuting 13 defendants in the previous reporting period, the report added.

“Accordingly, courts didn’t convict any traffickers, compared with four convictions during the previous reporting period and officials continued to lack understanding of internal trafficking crimes, and some continued to view forms of trafficking, especially of children in domestic servitude, as a culturally acceptable practice rather than a crime.

Additionally, the report mentioned that some prosecutors may have pursued other charges, including rape and child endangerment in lieu of sex trafficking or forced labor, because of a lack of understanding of the crime, emphasizing a lack of centralized record keeping further hindered law enforcement efforts.

“The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking crimes. Corruption and official complicity in trafficking crimes remained significant concerns, inhibiting law enforcement action,” the report said.

It continued: “After an investigation into trafficking allegations involving a Liberian diplomat in the United States that occurred during previous reporting periods, authorities in the United States did not bring criminal charges. Observers reported some court clerks and prosecutors allegedly required bribes to schedule trafficking cases”.
The U.S 2024 Trafficking in Person report added that the Liberia National Police (LNP) lacked basic resources and equipment to fully respond to and investigate trafficking allegations, especially outside the capital and officials and non-governmental organizations reported that many police, prosecutors, judges, and labor inspectors lacked sufficient resources, impeding trafficking investigations and prosecutions.

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