A 29-year-old Sierra Leonean man has been arrested and charged with attempting to sell his 10-year-old son. Mohammed Jalloh Massaquoi reportedly told investigators that he came to Liberia along with his son to sell him so that he could pay for a motorbike belonging to a friend that got stolen from him.
He said that when he told his friends back in Sierra Leone that he needed around $1,000 to pay for the bike, they advised him to go to Liberia as there were people looking for human beings to buy, a press release cited by Front Page Africa said.
Massaquoi said he arrived in Liberia with his son on December 16, 2021. Right after, he went to see a relative in Cotton-Tree, Margibi County where he met a man known as Momo Kamara, who said he would help him find a buyer for his son.
Kamara however advised him not to refer to the boy as a human being, but rather as a chicken to avoid being noticed. Still, Massaquoi was arrested by Liberia police Thursday, December 30, 2021, when he and Kamara were at a drinking spot in Cotton Tree reportedly waiting for the buyer.
Massaquoi’s son is currently in the care of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection.
Despite all the tough laws put in place, human trafficking in Africa has remained one of the most lucrative businesses on the continent, with statistics showing that millions of children are trafficked within and outside Africa every year.
But even with all the statistics, the actual scope of this illegal business remains a mystery, partly due to the lack of a clear definition of what human trafficking encompasses. This has led to flawed estimates and inconclusive legislation.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse, of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.
UNODC interprets exploitation to mean, at a minimum, the exploitation of prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.