EYEAFRICA TV: Whitehouse, USA: The United States government through her state department has recognized improvement in the fight against trafficking in persons in The Gambia, stating that Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report is the U.S. Government’s principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking.
In a release from the US Banjul Embassy that was provided to the Daily Observer, it stated that Trafficking in Persons is also the world’s most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-human trafficking efforts and reflects the U.S. Government’s commitment to global leadership on this key human rights and law enforcement issue. “It represents an updated, global look at the nature and scope of trafficking in persons and the broad range of government actions to confront and eliminate it.”
THE GAMBIA: Tier 2 Watch List
The release stated that The Government of The Gambia does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so.
According to the release, the government made key achievements during the reporting period; therefore, The Gambia was upgraded to Tier 2 Watch List. These achievements included identifying and providing services to the first internal trafficking victims identified in four years; training law enforcement and border officials on identifying and referring cases of trafficking for investigation; and convicting and sentencing one trafficker to life imprisonment—its first reported conviction for a trafficking-related offense in four years.
The release further stated that despite these efforts, the government did not have formal procedures to identify trafficking victims and refer them to care; it did not complete any prosecutions or secure any convictions under the amended 2007 Trafficking in Persons Act, even though NGOs brought cases of child sex trafficking to law enforcement’s attention; nor did it prosecute or convict any complicit officials.
Additionally, the release added, the National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons (NAATIP) remained without sufficient funding and resources to coordinate inter-ministerial anti-trafficking efforts and investigate trafficking offenses nationwide.
Recommendations for The Gambia
The State Department further laid some issues that it viewed to be recommendations for the country to continue to its improvement. It recommended for Gambia to vigorously investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers—including allegedly complicit government officials and child sex traffickers—with sufficiently stringent sentences; train law enforcement and prosecutors to investigate and prosecute all types of trafficking, and ensure they have the resources to do so; develop standard procedures for identifying trafficking victims, including those among vulnerable populations, and referring them to care, train government officials on such procedures, and ensure no victims are detained before they are referred to services.
It also recommend for the country to significantly increase awareness of trafficking among the general public, including of child sex trafficking and how to report cases; increase funding and training for social workers to ensure trafficking victims, including those outside the capital, receive adequate social services; provide adequate funding and resources to NAATIP to ensure effective implementation of the anti-trafficking national action plan; amend the labor law to extend its protections to domestic workers; and improve data collection and public reporting on victim identification and law enforcement efforts.
In releasing the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report, United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “Human trafficking is one of the most tragic human rights issues of our time. It splinters families, distorts global markets, undermines the rule of law, and spurs other transnational criminal activity. It threatens public safety and national security. But worst of all, the crime robs human beings of their freedom and their dignity. That’s why we must pursue an end to the scourge of human trafficking. Because human trafficking is global in scope, international partners are essential to success. That’s why the State Department will continue to establish positive partnerships with governments, civil society, law enforcement groups, and survivors to provide help for those who need our support.”
United States Ambassador to The Gambia, C. Patricia Alsup offered her congratulations, “Congratulations to the Government of The Gambia, especially NAATIP and all the stakeholders who fight against human trafficking. I am very pleased that The Gambia’s rating on trafficking in persons has improved over the past year. I hope that NAATIP and other partners will continue fighting the evil of human trafficking until The Gambia is considered a Tier 1 country.”
Tier 1 countries are those whose governments fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards.
The full Trafficking In Persons report, including The Gambia country narrative, can be found online at: https://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/countries/2017/271191.htm.