By: Ida A. Reeves
Monrovia, Liberia: Two state witnesses that testified against Issa Konneh in the human trafficking case involving several young ladies trafficked to Oman have alarmed death threats from some family members of the sentenced human trafficker.
State witnesses, Naomie Kozo and Beray Philip who were also trafficked by Issa Konneh confirmed via telephone that there has been series of threats on their lives by family members of sentenced human trafficker Issa Konneh.
Naomi explained that the threats have forced them to relocate along with their families for fear of being killed.
Issa Konneh was found guilty of Trafficking-In-Person on April 19, 2020 by twelve trial jurors at the Criminal Court, ‘A’ and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Issa trafficked countless number of Liberian ladies to Oman under the pretense of better living.
According to Naomi, authorities of the Ministry of Justice promised to provide them security during and after the trial to ensure their safety against threats but they have reneged on their promises.
She indicated that Minister Wesseh A. Wesseh made a commitment on behalf of the government of Liberia to ensure their security but they are now vulnerable.
“Only two of us agreed to testify against Issa Konneh, all our friends were afraid to come out and testify for fear that somebody will hunt them during or after the trial but two of us accepted to do it but now we are left at the mercy of God without any form of security or protection thereby putting them in harm’s way”.
Naomi narrated that they were tricked by Issa based on their friendship with her in a community they once lived. “We knew Issa personally prior to going Omar, we all lived in the same community, I know her family and she knows mine including my children, so when she came to us and told us about this whole Omar business, we just believed everything she told us and went to Omar, so going to testify against someone you know personally it’s not an easy thing, now our lives are in danger and nobody cares not even Min Wesseh who barely appealed to do why we did, we are now in hiding”.
The two state witnesses revealed that prior to relocating to a new environment, unknown men attempted to set their house on fire.
They are calling on the government of Liberia provide security for she and her children as they are living in fear and can not move around freely due to many threats from the trafficker family members.
Meanwhile, Assistant Justice Minister Wesseh admitted via telephone to bringing the ladies to testify on behalf of the government but said he was not clothed with the authority to provide benefits and settlement instead, the Ministry of Labor was responsible.
However, the Ministry of Labour has declined to speak on the issue after visiting their offices on two separate occasions and sending several text messages to WhatsApp.
According to the revised Trafficking In Person Act of 2021, “Trafficking in Person” shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or abduction of fraud or deception; abuse of power of a position of vulnerability or giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploration.