Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 May 2019:
Forty-one law enforcement officers in Sierra Leone have received expert training on how to identify, investigate, report and prosecute suspected cases of human trafficking.
The 5-day training workshop which took place on 6th to 10th of May 2019, was organized by the IOM – the UN Migration Agency in partnership with the Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs (MSWGCA).
“Our collaborative efforts in combating this crime is indispensable; and the systematic approach in mitigating crimes of this nature as presented in the training, provides us the opportunity to learn and optimize institutional resources in addressing this in our country”, affirmed Mr. Joseph A. Bunting from the Office of National Security, who is among the group of 41 offciers that have been trained.
Every year, thousands of young girls and boys are trafficked into sexual slavery or forced labor in Sierra Leone.
In 2005, the Sierra Leone government enacted the Anti-Human Trafficking Act No.7 of 2005, which officially makes trafficking in persons an offence.
However, since then, there has been no conviction of trafficking in persons in the country. This is in part because officials on the frontline of the fight against trafficking in persons are not sufficiently trained in human trafficking case management, as well as the protection of survivors.
“Successful convictions are contingent on the collective efforts of those who identify the victims, those who investigate and those who prosecute the alleged perpetrators. This can only happen when all the actors involved have some mastery of their responsibilities”, said Mr Francis Kabia Director of Social Welfare at the MSWGCA.
The training participants came from various national law enforcement agencies, including the Sierra Leone Police (Legal and Justice Department, Trans-National Organized Crime Unit, Family Support Unit, Interpol), the Immigration Department, the Office of National Security (ONS), and the Ministry of Labour.
Other participants included civil society actors working against human trafficking.
“IOM is committed to working with the Government of Sierra Leone to address emerging trends in human trafficking in the country. This includes strengthening the capacity of both government agencies and civil society organizations”, said Alhaji Sanusi Tejan Savage, Head of the IOM Office in Sierra Leone.
This latest training brings to 184 the number of government, civil society officials and journalists trained to combat trafficking in persons in Sierra Leone since March 2019.
The training is delivered through the Africa Regional Migration Programme, funded by the US Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.