DCI reminds the government of Sierra Leone of its regional and international obligations to end trafficking of children

Freetown – July 30 2018, the International Day Against Trafficking in Person, Defence for Children International – Sierra Leone (DCI-SL) is calling on the government of Sierra Leone to implement international, regional and national laws to end trafficking in persons, in particular child trafficking especially by increasing efforts to prosecute traffickers and consequently, build a future without human and child trafficking in Sierra Leone.

On 6 July 2018 DCI-SL facilitated the signing of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) between authorities of Sierra Leone and Guinea to prevent and respond to cross border trafficking of children between the two countries on the basis of trust and compliance with regional and international legislation. The SOPs set forth practical measures for effective implementation of international, regional and national policies that have been adopted by the government of Sierra Leone.

Moreover, over the past three years, DCI-SL has been providing training on child and human trafficking to frontline security officials, community leaders and civil society actors in the border areas, where the risk of cross border child trafficking is higher. Positive developments are already visible, law enforcement officials and community leaders present at the border areas are already identifying and arresting suspected cases of child trafficking.

However, DCI-SL is concerned that when these cases are forwarded to the criminal justice system for investigation and prosecution, they take longer time than necessary and they are hardly concluded. For example, in 2017, the government of Sierra Leone identified a total of 34 victims of trafficking; however the perpetrators were never brought to justice. More cases have been identified and investigated in 2018, but the proceedings are still pending in Court.

Whilst DCI-SL is pleased with the commitment made by the current government in the “New Direction” manifesto to address child trafficking, DCI-SL is calling on the government to go into action and fulfil their commitments. This includes actions to empower children and their families through education and other supports that will address their vulnerabilities. Additionally, DCI-SL urges the government of Sierra Leone to take concrete and consistent measures, including reviewing the Anti-Human Trafficking Act of 2005, and undertaking comprehensive awareness-raising campaigns on the negative consequences of trafficking on children particularly targeting rural communities.

Finally, DCI-SL calls on the government of Sierra Leone to implement the 2016 Concluding Observations of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child “to investigate cases of sale, trafficking and abduction of children and the prosecution and sanctioning of the perpetrators”[1].

For further information, please contact DCI – Sierra Leone at info@dcisierraleone.org or by phone at +232 88 818089

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[1] UNCRC Concluding Observations 2016 to the government of Sierra Leone: https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CRC%2fC%2fSLE%2fCO%2f3-5&Lang=en