Gambia government reacts to U.S. report on human trafficking

The ministry of foreign affairs has reacted to suggestions contained in the United States of America department of state’s 2014 Trafficking In Persons Report in which The Gambia is placed under their, based on claims that the government of The Gambia does not fully comply with the minimum standards to eliminate human trafficking in The Gambia.

A news release from the said ministry reveals that, The Gambia has signed and ratified the protocol to prevent, suppress and punish those involved in trafficking in persons, especially women and children. This action, the dispatch adds, supplements the United Nations Conventions Against Transnational Organised Crimes. The Gambia, the release states, is the second ECOWAS member state to establish a trafficking in persons agency, after Nigeria and Niger. Thus, the dispatch argues, it is worthy to note that in the entire West African sub-region, there are only these three agencies against human trafficking. Since 2007, The Gambia police force, department of social welfare and other stakeholders have been sensitising and creating awareness of the ills of street begging and policing the situation to deter school-going age children from such a practice. The allegations contained in the U.S department of state’s report, that many Gambian boys attend koranic schools and are forced into begging and street vending is, therefore, a misrepresentation of the facts, the dispatch adds.

It should be noted, the foreign affairs ministry release states, that there are no “almodos” in the streets of Banjul and its surroundings, as opposed to what exists in other countries in the sub-region. The allegation that the government of The Gambia did not provide comprehensive law enforcement data on trafficking in persons, is also a misrepresentation of the facts, as there is adequate data on reported human trafficking cases in The Gambia, it states. This, the release posits, is evidenced by the two-year partnership and cooperation agreement between the national agency against trafficking in persons-gambia and the child fund project which ended in 2013, thus resulting in the creation of a data base for all and is readily available for information purposes. The government of The Gambia, in further compliance with the Palermo protocol and in complementing the efforts of the United Nations to eradicate this modern day form of slavery, signed a memorandum of understanding with the national committee against trafficking in persons of the Republic of Senegal to combat cross-border trafficking crimes between the two countries. It is surprising and disappointing to note that the political officers of the U.S. embassy in Banjul are aware of this collaborative engagement between the Gambia and Senegal, but regrettably, the release notes, this was not captured in the U.S. report.

Most importantly, the foreign ministry statement adds, the government of The Gambia, through its national agency against trafficking in persons, has this year, taken bold steps to investigate some reported cases of human trafficking across its borders, specifically, in Lebanon, where human trafficking of Gambian nationals is presently being reported.

It is however gratifying to note that the Gambia’s unwavering commitment to pursuing culprits, creating awareness and deterring the practice of human trafficking in and across its borders, has been acknowledged in the report of the U.S. state department, despite the many other anomalies. This acknowledgement, the dispatch posits, is all the more reason why placing the Gambia under tier 3 in the world country ranking remains a big puzzle. As a country, The Gambia has been working at all levels, nationally, regionally and internationally, to fight against trafficking in persons and it is worthy to note that the same U.S. report, which places The Gambia in the lowest ranking, also commended its preventive measures and efforts, which show that The Gambia is indeed responding positively to the fight against trafficking in persons, the dispatch ends.

 

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