As efforts to end cross-border child trafficking in the Mano River Union countries continue, Defence for Children International – Sierra Leone (DCI-SL) and Liberia (DCI-L) facilitated a workshop with frontline security officials, community leaders and civil society actors to strengthen bilateral cooperation to prevent and respond to child trafficking.
Urging security officials and local community actors to help prevent child trafficking, Abdul Manaff Kemokai, Executive Director at Defence for Children International – Sierra Leone (DCI-SL), said that DCI-SL and DCI-Liberia had concluded the drafting of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) that define objectives and areas of collaboration between frontline security officials, community leaders and civil society actors to end cross-border child trafficking at the Jendema – Bo Waterside border between Sierra Leone and Liberia.
“The significance of the workshop is enormous. Frontline security officials, community leaders and other key actors have come together and agreed on practical, coordinated actions to take to better prevent and respond to child trafficking”, he said.
Mohamed Kamara, head of the Office of the National Security and overall head of Sierra Leone security at the Sierra Leone/Liberia border, said that the workshop has improved understanding on the roles and obligations of each actor, thereby enhancing collaboration and making it more effective.
The workshop included presentations on: international, regional and national standards and policies on child trafficking, victim identification, case management and documentation, referral pathways for victims and survivors’ rehabilitation and reintegration, and the identification of practical measures, best practices and lessons learnt at national and community levels to address child trafficking.
The workshop gathered forty (40) participants, equally representing each side of the border, including: immigration, security, army and police officials; representatives of the Ministries in charge of children’s affairs; the chairperson of the Sierra Leone National Taskforce on Trafficking in Persons; community leaders; members of community-based Child Welfare Committees (CWCs); civil society actors; and representatives of the Drivers and Motor Bike Riders Unions, who regularly transport individuals across the border.
Describing the significance of the workshop, Mr. Tengbeh, head of the Liberia Office of National Security at the border between Sierra Leone and Liberia, said that he will use the knowledge and skills gained to not only “arrest and investigate suspected cases of child trafficking but will also mobilize security officials to eradicate such criminal act of violence and impunity at the border.”
DCI-Sierra Leone will then head to Pamelap, at the border between Sierra Leone and Guinea, in early October to conduct a similar workshop and ensure the adoption of another set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
Background information: DCI national sections in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are engaged in a regional programme to end child trafficking in the Mano River Union. In addition to organizing workshops and initiating cross-border collaboration between the different actors, DCI is currently engaging with the secretariat of the Mano River Union to draft a sub-regional policy for the protection of children on the move. To learn more about the programme, please contact DCI-Sierra Leone at: firstname.lastname@example.org
 The Mano River Union is composed of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire.
 The training is funded by the Fund for Global Human Rights and DCI/ECPAT Netherlands as part of the project to strengthen Cross-Border Collaboration to Fight Child Trafficking in West Africa