…says only effective actions like prosecuting complicit officials will guarantee development aid
POLICE Commissioner Holomo Molibeli says only concrete action, including the arrest and prosecutions of government officials complicit in human trafficking, will ensure Lesotho remains eligible for development aid.
The United States (US) government considers human trafficking a serious offence and countries like Lesotho, which are on its Tier 2 Watchlist for trafficking, are ineligible to receive various forms of US development assistance.
Compliance with the US government’s recommendations to deal decisively with the human trafficking is part of the eligibility criteria for Lesotho to sign a multi-million-dollar second compact in terms of the US Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
Among other things, the US has demanded that Lesotho prosecutes government officials complicit in human trafficking before the two countries can agree a new multi-million-dollar second compact under the US government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC Compact II).
Commissioner Molibeli alluded to the US demands while officiating at a ceremony for 31 police officers who recently completed training aimed at fighting trafficking in persons.
The officers, who were drawn from Leribe, Butha-Buthe, Mafeteng and Mohale’s Hoek, received training on how to identify fraudulent documents that can be used in furtherance of trafficking activities. They were trained by the International Organisation on Migration (IOM).
They were then given 40 sets of document examination equipment to be used at the focal points that have been established in various districts to combat trafficking activities.
Speaking at the handover ceremony of the document examination equipment yesterday, Commissioner Molibeli said they were aware of the scourge of trafficking in persons which he was “inhuman”.
“We are still faced with the issue of prosecuting complicit officials and this will determine whether or not Lesotho will continue to receive aid,” Commissioner Molibeli said.
“We are called upon to act not to merely talk. What we are currently doing is capacitating the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) to a level where all police officers are aware of the scourge and can act against it.
“It is therefore our responsibility to work together with the Ministry of Home Affairs and other stakeholders to ensure that Basotho are safe. We are grateful to the IOM for helping us to establish this Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Migration Control Unit. The intention is to expand to all the country’s ten districts,” Commissioner Molibeli said.
On her part, IOM Lesotho Head of Office, Eriko Nishimura, said the training and donation of equipment to the newly established anti-trafficking units would help Lesotho to better prevent trafficking, offer protection to victims of trafficking and the prosecution of human traffickers.