By Omar Bah
The Gambia government has vowed to pay greater attention to trafficking in persons by supporting all ‘relevant’ institutions charged with fighting the menace.
The Gambia last year risked sanctions from the United States after it was found to have not made ‘significant efforts’ to fight human trafficking.
The US Department of State in the 2019 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report released in June 2019 placed The Gambia in Tier 3, the last of three tiers. A country in Tier 3 is placed under special scrutiny and risks US sanctions.
The Gambia government yesterday brought together officials from the police, army, immigration, state intelligence services and customs officials to offer measures aimed at addressing human trafficking at a two-day workshop at Coral Beach Hotel.
In her address at the forum, Vice President Dr Isatou Touray said the government will put all efforts together and support all relevant institutions to address the issue of trafficking in persons because “it’s a human rights violation and also has a gender dimension.”
“The trafficking in persons will be given greater attention by the government and relevant institutions to take it further and address the gross violation of human rights”.
VP Touray said President Adama Barrow attaches high sense of commitment in combating the menace as such practices equate to gross violation of human rights and dignity of the persons.
VP Touray believes that the needed efforts are beyond government as she calls for participation of non-state actors and NGOs.
“I think every civil society organisation or the non-state actors will see themselves part of it apart from what government does. It’s not the plate for government alone but everybody who is engaged in addressing human rights issues, violence against women, children and disability and people who do not have the opportunity or whose voices were never heard,” she said.
She noted that The Gambia is obliged to respond to the whole list of questions regarding the issue which needs the involvement of inclusive responses.
“This is why today we are all together to ensure that the report we are going to give is going to reflect the real situation on the ground. The weaknesses that we had were collaboration, communication and engagement from different aspects,” she explained.
The head of The Gambia anti-human trafficking agency, Tulie Jawara-Ceesay said human trafficking is a global problem that needs to be addressed.
She called on everyone to participate in fighting trafficking in persons, describing traffickers as ‘hyenas’ who have to be hunted for their heinous actions and penalised.
“Trafficking in person is a criminal offense. It is prohibited by law and the offenders must be punished,” NAATIP executive director added.