Melrose Karminty, the minister of social welfare has discussed Sierra Leone’s intervention in combatting the issue of human trafficking and related issues at the margins of the CSW 68th session in New York.

She delivered her keynote address at a side event on the theme ‘bridging ender disparities and combatting trafficking and exploitation across different platforms through policy development and social protection interventions’.

The  minister updated the gathering about her ministry’s and by extension the country’s interventions in addressing pressing issues related to the theme as well as to map out strategies moving forward. She stressed that combating trafficking is extremely critical to achieving global security, public safety and human dignity.


She added that, as a severe criminal Justice and human rights abuse issue, it compromises national and economic security, undermines the rule of law and harms the well-being of individuals and communities everywhere, adding that, it is against this backdrop that her ministry continues to rollout and implement anti trafficking in persons and related measures to promote national and economic security, improve the rule of law and advance the rights, well-being and dignity of human beings generally.


she cited that the latest Global estimates by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) indicate that 28 million people are trapped in various forms of trafficking, adding that, the 2023 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report indicates that  the country is a source, transit and destination country for hundreds of children and women trafficked for forced labour and sexual exploitation every year.


She also made mentioned of a recent collaborative report from the African Programming and Research Initiative to End Slavery (APRIES) University of Liverpool and the University of Georgia, which estimates 33% of children aged 5 to 17 in Sierra Leone’s Eastern Province alone have experienced child trafficking and 36% have experienced child labour.

She also recalled a joint report in 2020 by the European Union and Council of European States indicates that trafficking in human beings has very clear gender dimensions. That report furthered that both men and women, boys and girls, are victims of human trafficking, but they are exploited differently and have varied traumatic experiences. For this reason most of the discussions about gender and trafficking in human beings is focused on trafficking in women for the purpose of sexual exploitation, adding that most of the current evidence on trafficking focuses exclusively on women.

Revealing data on human trafficking in Sierra Leone, Honourable Mrs. Melrose Karminty said that a gender dimension situation analysis for 2023 reveals that between January and December 2023, they identified 51 victims of trafficking for referral to existing Victim Recovery Centre for trauma informed care services. 5 of them she said were sex trafficking victims while 46 were forced labour victims.

Speaking on the progress made so far the minister stated that Sierra Leone has enacted the Anti-Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Act, 2022 to cover provisions such as informal fostering (men pekin) which is the most commonly abused form of societal structures in the exploitation and trafficking of children in the country.

This new legislation she revealed has also increased penalties prescribed for trafficking crimes and removed the option for a fine in lieu of imprisonment for convicted traffickers; a National Task Force on Human Trafficking established with the responsibility of coordinating the implementation of this new legislation; establishment of Anti-Trafficking-in-Persons Task Forces in all the sixteen districts across the country adding that this is in addition to the National Anti-Trafficking-in-Persons Task Force Secretariat which now becomes a Government Subvented Agency under the supervision of her Ministry. She said that this focused approach allows them to better resource the fight against human trafficking in Sierra Leone, more so in the areas of prosecution and the provision of victim services, especially for women and children.

Other achievements mentioned by the minister were the first National Conference on Trafficking in Persons organized by her ministry of which a major outcome of that conference was the development of a National Anti-Trafficking Strategy to help reduce incidents of human trafficking and irregular migration at all levels; an improved reporting mechanism for suspected cases through the use of a dedicated 134 toll freeline Anti-Trafficking Hotline or Freedom line; operationalized the National Referral Mechanism to provide a step-by step procedural structure to be followed by all Anti-Trafficking in Persons (ATIP) institutions and groups in their day-to-day management of potential cases of trafficking; hosting ECOWAS Conference on Trafficking in Persons as part of a regional approach to eradicate human trafficking and the launch of a victim of trafficking trust fund established under Section 11 (1) of the Anti-Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Act of 2022 to generally provide protection services for victims of human trafficking.

On the Social Protection front, she stated that her Ministry continues to collaborate with various partners including IOM for the repatriation of victims, their psychosocial support and counseling, family tracing, reunification and reintegration in their communities as well as NaCSA for the provision of emergency cash transfer to women including victims of trafficking.

She said that they intend to accelerate service delivery to vulnerable groups, mentioning the ministry’s five years strategic plan which places premium on combating trafficking in persons.