India-bound scholars educated on human trafficking

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Limpho Sello

THE Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) recently held a training workshop to sensitise 42 India-bound youths on human trafficking.

The youths will begin studies in the Asian nation in August 2022. The students will undertake studies in various degree programmes like radiology, law, agriculture, commerce and computer studies.

The training was organised by Info-dome, a local company that helps locals to secure scholarships for overseas studies.

Info-dome has been operating in the country for the past six years in conjunction with Global Arcus, an academic consultancy in India offering free counselling and scholarships to international students.

Speaking during the Maseru workshop which was attended by police officers, Info dome Managing Director, Thebe Leaooa, said the training was necessary to equip the students to protect themselves from exploitation by traffickers.

“The training seeks to raise students’ awareness of human trafficking so that they can protect themselves against the scourge during their time away from home,” Mr Leaooa said.

“It is very important that you are afforded this training prior to your departure so that it will be easy for you to spot any signs of possible trafficking during your stay in India. The world has become very cruel hence we need expert advice on how we can be on our guard always. That is why we’ve partnered with the police,” Mr Leaooa added.

Lance Sergeant Jafeta Tseka, from the police’s Anti Human Trafficking and Migrant Control Unit, urged the students to be wary of human traffickers who are out to enrich themselves.

He said human traffickers pretended to work with reputable organisations and they promised their victims scholarships and well-paying jobs.

“You therefore need to make proper investigations to establish whether such offers exist or not. The police can help you to verify some information from the people or organisations you’re dealing with. Don’t give your passport or cellphone to anyone. It is illegal for your passport to be carried by the next person,” Lance Sergeant Tseka said.

The training comes at a time human trafficking has become a major concern in Lesotho.

A fortnight ago, a Nigerian national appeared before the Maseru Magistrates’ Court on charges of human trafficking and unlawful entry into the country.

Following his arrest, police appealed to the public to be vigilant and use international police services such as Interpol to examine opportunities offered to them abroad.

Police deputy spokesperson, Inspector ‘Mareabetsoe Mofoka said, “Some people don’t conduct thorough research or make use of our offices when they are promised jobs. They just leave the country not knowing that they might be signing up for their deaths or slavery.

“They don’t want to share information about their ‘opportunities’ especially with the police because they believe that they will jeopardise their job prospects.

“We have an Interpol office here. When you get a job or scholarship offer outside the country, the office will assist by finding out whether such job opportunities are genuine. They can also verify university scholarships,” Inspector Mofoka said.

Human trafficking is regarded as serious offence by the United States (US). Countries that do not do enough to tackle the scourge are denied aid by the superpower.

For more than a decade, Lesotho was ineligible for a second multi-million dollar grant from the US’ Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to fund various socio-economic projects under a second compact (Compact II) programme.

A US$300 million second compact agreed was only signed last month in recognition of the “significant steps” that Lesotho had taken to tackle human trafficking and other human rights concerns.

Those steps include arresting and prosecuting suspected human trafficking masterminds.

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