As the global fight against trafficking in persons (TIPs) intensifies, the University of Liberia (UL) has expressed its   willingness to partner with key national and international stakeholders, including the United States Government, in the fight against trafficking in persons.

At a special centenary edition of LUX TALK, a UL’s platform for intellectual discourse, two faculty members welcomed the challenge for the university to play a major role in combating and ending trafficking in persons.

Assistant Professor Mamawa M. Freeman-Moore, a director of the erewhile Honors Programs which transitioned into the Honors College, said trafficking in persons will be one of the key topics that research students will take on in the Honors College in order to find a solution to the problem.

Director Moore said she was particularly concerned about what tertiary education institutions in Liberia can do to help in the prevention of trafficking in persons.

The Assistant Professor said the Department of Research and Interdisciplinary Studies in the Honors College, which cuts across all disciplines and teaches students how to research critical issues and proffer solutions, would be used to research this critical global human rights abuse.

Similarly, Associate Dean of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, Jamal C. Dehtho Jr. said the Law School currently has a ‘Legal Clinic’ program which looks at different issues in society, saying the Law School stands ready to work with the US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking In Persons.

The Associate Dean said trafficking in persons was an organized crime, adding that African Governments must be encouraged to provide welfare for their citizens.

“Because African countries mostly are impoverished, people are seeking better lives, better livelihood, so traffickers exploit these situations,” he lamented, suggesting that if families can afford to provide for their children, send them to school and provide healthcare for them, trafficking in persons would be minimized.

The statements of willingness to join the fight against trafficking in persons were welcomed heartedly by American Ambassador-At-Large, John Cotton Richmond.

Ambassador Richmond presented on the topic “The Fight Against Trafficking In Persons” at the special Centennial LUX TALK on Tuesday, September 10, on the UL Capitol Hill campus.

Ambassador Richmond who currently heads the State Department’s global efforts to combat modern slavery through prosecution of traffickers, protection of victims, and prevention of human trafficking, mentioned that Liberia has only been able to prosecute three cases of trafficking in persons, with one conviction since January of this year.

The American Diplomat maintained that there is no requirement in Liberia’s 2005 TIPs law for a person to be moved from one place to another, while adding that Liberia’s law is set up to attack human trafficking in all forms, labor trafficking and sex trafficking of adult and children victims, males and females-regardless of whether a victim is a citizen or non-citizen.

But Ambassador Richmond said he believes not much is being done to implement these laws, even though he was quick to admit that there has been a massive decline in prosecution of trafficking cases globally, something he described as a serious challenge to the fight against trafficking in persons (TIPs).

“Human trafficking is compelling someone to work or engage in a commercial sex work,” he said.” The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 24.9 million victims of TIPs in the World today; it is far more than the 12 million people trafficked during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.”

At the same time University of Liberia Vice President for Institutional Development and Planning, Geegbae A. Geegbae said the menace should be a concern to all, adding, “Our inability in our governance structure to manage our socio-economic programs brings about vulnerability.”

 He explained that due to these vulnerabilities, people who want to survive take advantage of these conditions, move from countries to countries in a centered- periphery relations of people being transferred to others all over Africa and the World for economic gains.

The lecture was attended by a cross-section from university family, including newly admitted first-year law students and students of the Honors College, as well as officials from the US Embassy in Monrovia.