MONROVIA, Liberia â€“ Campaigners presented a nine-count petition seeking the United States government’s intervention on behalf of the girls trafficked into Lebanon.
During their presentation, the campaigners chanted anti-trafficking slogans. They held placards that read, “Let the prosecution of the alleged traffickers start now,” and “America, please talk to the heartless government of Liberia to bring back our girls.”
Over fifty girls are said to be in Lebanon working as sex slaves and hard laborers.
Recently, the government of Liberia brought home 14 of the girls who were trafficked to Lebanon. They are being kept in a â€œsafe homeâ€ in Margibi. The government has however failed to explain why the girls are being kept after years of slavery in Lebanon.
The petitioners asked the American government to mount pressure on LiberiaÂ to ensure that the remaining girls trafficked to Lebanon are transported back.
The petition also said that the continued â€œdetentionâ€ by the Liberian government of the Liberian girls that have returned is a violation of their rights to free movement. It suggests that they should be released and reunited with their families.
In addition, the petition stated that the government of Liberia should reveal the whereabouts of the alleged trafficker, Abbas Debes, owner of the Speedo Printing Press. According to the campaigners, the government of Liberia has described Debes as a person of interest in the case.
The campaigners stated that Americaâ€™s intervention would help in stopping people from taking advantage of poverty stricken situations to exploit continuously and abuse human rights.
Mamensie Kabba, one of the lead campaigners, said that it is time for the government of Liberia to refrain from what she termed as “delay tactics” and bring charges onto the alleged human traffickers.
Kabba said when the alleged culprits are brought to be booked and prosecuted, trafficked girls and campaigners will believe that justice is served.
The head of public information at the US embassy, Sally Hodgeson, stated that the US government is aware of some specific matters of the trafficking case and has taken the petition very seriously. Hodgeson also said that the US government has begun discussions with the Liberian government on the issue, noting that the prosecution of those involved is a matter for the government of Liberia to handle.
She also lauded the campaigners for the petition and pledged the US embassy’s support to the process.
Featured photo credit:Â National Museum of American History