US Govt Report urges Gambia to Investigate, Convict Traffickers

The Government of the Gambia has been urged to investigate, prosecute and convict traffickers with sufficient stringent sentences.

As the US States Department releases the 2017 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, it is calling on the Gambia government to train law enforcement officers and prosecutors to investigate and prosecute all types of trafficking, and ensure they have the resources to do so.

A release from the US Embassy in Banjul said government needs to develop standard procedures for identifying trafficked victims, including those among vulnerable populations, and refer them to care services. The report also recommends the training of government officials on such procedures, and ensures that victims are detained before they are referred to services.

The US Department of State report states that The Gambia Government does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The report however observed key achievements made by the Gambia government during the reporting period. This the report went on made The Gambia upgraded to Tier 2 Watch List.

Among the achievements highlighted are 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 report noted that the government did not have formal procedures to identify trafficking victims and refer them to care. The government did not also 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, the report said.

It also highlighted the insufficient funding and resources at the National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons (NAATIP) to coordinate inter-ministerial anti-trafficking efforts and investigate trafficking offenses nationwide.

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 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report is the U.S. Government’s principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking.

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.