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Friday, June 14, 2024

UP GOV’T MUST ACT: CONVICTED CHILD TRAFFICKER MARIA LUYKEN REMAINS FREE, EXPOSING LEGAL SYSTEM FAILURES

Date:

MONROVIA – In a glaring example of apparent injustice, Madam Maria Luyken, a convicted child trafficker, remains free despite a court ruling that found her guilty. This raises significant questions about the efficacy and equity of Liberia’s legal system, particularly whether it serves justice for all citizens or only the privileged few.

In October 2020, Criminal Court ‘B’ at the Temple of Justice ruled that Madam Maria Luyken was guilty of child trafficking. She was found liable for sending the children of two Liberian women, Mathaline Johnson and Elizabeth Johnson, to the United States without their consent. Maria Luyken, a former Representative candidate of District #8 Montserrado County and owner of Destiny Entertainment Center on the Capitol Bye-pass in Monrovia, was indicted in 2018 alongside two others for trafficking these children.

Despite the court’s ruling, Ms. Luyken has not been incarcerated. This failure to enforce the court’s decision casts a dark shadow over Liberia’s legal system and its commitment to justice. It suggests a disturbing disparity in the application of the law, one that appears to favor those with connections or influence over ordinary citizens.

Ms. Luyken’s case is not an isolated incident. She has been accused multiple times of being a notorious child trafficker, using her adoption agency, West African Children Support Network, as a front to traffic children to the United States, often leaving no trace to their biological parents. In 2009, authorities removed 35 children from her agency due to violations of adoption laws and allegations of mistreatment. At that time, Canada had already halted adoptions from Liberia due to rampant child trafficking, although the U.S. Embassy in Liberia continued to process adoption-related orphan visa applications from U.S. citizens.

Over the years, Ms. Luyken has reportedly trafficked approximately 550 children out of Liberia. This alarming figure highlights a severe oversight and a potentially complicit system that allows such heinous activities to persist.

The Unity Party government, particularly through the Ministry of Justice, must act decisively to rectify this situation. The incarceration of Madam Marie Luyken is not merely about enforcing a court ruling; it is about restoring faith in Liberia’s legal system and ensuring that justice is not selectively applied.

The reluctance or failure to imprison a convicted criminal like Ms. Luyken sends a dangerous message: that those with connections or wealth can evade justice, while ordinary citizens face the full brunt of the law. This disparity undermines the very foundations of justice and equality upon which a fair legal system should be built.

The Ministry of Justice must urgently address this issue. It is imperative that they take swift action to enforce the court’s ruling and ensure that Madam Maria Luyken is held accountable for her crimes. This will not only serve justice to the victims and their families but also reinforce the integrity of Liberia’s legal system.

Failure to act will perpetuate the perception that Liberia’s legal system is flawed and biased, serving only the interests of the powerful. It will further erode public trust and confidence in the institutions meant to uphold justice and protect the vulnerable.

The Unity Party government has an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to justice and equality. By ensuring that Madam Maria Luyken is incarcerated, they can send a clear message that no one is above the law and that Liberia is committed to protecting its children and upholding the rule of law for all its citizens.

Socrates Smythe Saywon
Socrates Smythe Saywon is a Liberian journalist. You can contact me at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or reach out via email at saywonsocrates@smartnewsliberia.com or saywonsocrates3@gmail.com.

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