Liberia & Sierra Leone Consent to Host MRU Summit -To Discuss On Human Trafficking In West Africa

Liberia and Sierra Leone, the two pioneer members of the Mano River Union (MRU) have agreed on the urgent need for the convening of a mini Mano River Union summit to address issues of human trafficking in the sub-region.

According to a release from the Ministry Of Labor, the two countries reached a consensus at the climax of a two-day official working visit to Freetown, Sierra Leone, of Liberia’s Labor Minister, Mr. Charles H. Gibson. According to a dispatch from Freetown, the Liberian Labor Minister said, the proper modalities will be worked out to ensure hosting of the summit early next year (2022).

Minister Gibson noted, that this will be done after he has concluded talks with his Guinean counterpart on combining efforts to combat human trafficking. Speaking during the interactions with his Liberia counterpart, Sierra Leone Minister of Labour, Alpha Osman Timbo, recommended that countries within the MRU sub-region should put in place legal migration regimes to formalize and regulate migration of their citizens for jobs abroad.

Minister Timbo further said, when MRU States integrate regulatory measures, there will be proper monitoring of those involved with migration to ensure orderliness and avoid association with criminal enterprises. The Sierra Leone Labor Minister noted that while MRU States remain cognizant of ECOWAS protocols on free movement of people, elements of Trafficking in Person (TIP) cannot be ignored.

On request from Foreign Ministries about Sierra Leoneans involvement into human trafficking, mainly Asia, Minister Timbo disclosed that his Country now has travel restrictions for its citizens, whom he noted, must seek exit permit from the Government for those going abroad for employment.  According to the Sierra Leone Labour Minister, to make this system effective, his Country has signed Memorandum of Understanding with the Governments of Qatar, Kuwait and  Saudi Arabia to ensure the orderly movements of workers without risk and more attractive incomes.

The Liberian Labour Minister, Cllr. Charles H. Gibson, also on Tuesday, December, 21, 2021, met with the Ministers of Justice, Social Welfare, and the Chief Immigration Officer of Sierra Leone. The Labour Minister also met and held bilateral talks with the Chairman of the Parliamentary commission on Human Rights, Barrister Daniel Brima Koroma, to climax his official working visit to that neighbouring country.

During his meeting with the Sierra Leone Minister of Justice it was agreed that all three MRU countries need to combat human trafficking as a bloc to ensure a better and sustainable outcome.  For her part, the Minister of Social Protection who heads the Human Trafficking taskforce in Sierra Leone, she expressed solid support for the special MRU summit on human trafficking  and thanked Liberia for its ongoing assistance to the many Sierra Leoneans  who  are victims of human trafficking in that country.

The Chairman of the parliamentary committee on human rights emphasized the need to also prioritize a look at in country human trafficking during the upcoming Special MRU summit. He sees the harmonization of the human trafficking laws in all three MRU countries as a means discouraging perpetrators from operating in the sub-region.  The Labour Minister and delegation are expected to return to Monrovia later today- Wednesday, December 22, 2021.

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