The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of The Gambia has called on government to prosecute and convict human traffickers, the body states in its 2021 report of the situation of human rights in The Gambia.
The commission, however, commended the National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons (NAATIP) for taking notable steps in combating Trafficking in Persons in The Gambia.
The commission also expressed that recognising the launch of the National Referral Mechanism for Vulnerable Migrants, the development of the National Plan of Action on Trafficking in Persons 2021-2025, the validation of the Standard Operating Procedure on Trafficking in Persons in 2021 and the Amendment of the Labour Bill to incorporate domestic workers and the rights of domestic workers.
It also acknowledges efforts of the Agency to educate law enforcement agencies and security officials on Trafficking in persons, following trainings conducted for immigration officers, the Gambia Police Force and State Intelligence Operatives during the reporting year.
Notwithstanding, the rights body reiterated that trafficking in persons continues to remain a challenge in The Gambia.
“NAATIP has identified challenges to combating trafficking in The Gambia as including reluctance from victims to participate in court proceedings due to stigma, long adjournment of court proceedings causing a delay in the prosecution of cases and limited facilities to accommodate victims of trafficking, with only one government facility providing shelter to children, the elderly and victims of trafficking,” NHRC stated in its report in the situation of human rights in the Gambia in 2021.
According to the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report on The Gambia in 2021, women, girls and some boys are subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor in street vending and domestic work.
The report also included reports of forced labour of Gambian children in neighbouring countries such as Mauritania and the recruitment and exploitation of male and female workers in countries such as Lebanon, Kuwait, and the UAE.
“Allegations of sex tourism through registered charities under the pretense of providing scholarships to children for educational purposes were also reported.”
The report, according to NHRC, placed The Gambia on Tier 2 Watch List for the second year running due to a limited “overall increase in efforts to combat trafficking in persons compared to the previous reporting period”.
Nevertheless, despite the low conviction rates of traffickers, the Brikama Magistrates’ Court in 2021 convicted three men on one count of acting as an intermediary for trafficking, having received money from various individuals to facilitate their journey to the Canary Islands in Spain.
NHRC therefore called on government to allocate sufficient budget
and provide technical and other forms of support to NAATIP to enable it to carry out its mandate effectively and to strictly enforce the laws such as the NAATIP Act 2007, Tourism (Amendment) Act 2014, the Children’s Act 2005 and the Women’s Act 2010.
It has also tasked government to train Immigration and other law enforcement officers in the detection and investigation of trafficking cases, and to intensify efforts towards the prosecution and conviction of offenders.