By Landing Ceesay
The National Human Rights Commission on the occasion International Day Against Trafficking in Persons called on The Gambia Government to strengthen efforts to curb human trafficking in persons.
“… the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) calls on the Government of The Gambia to strengthen its efforts to curb human trafficking, listen to and prioritize the fundamental needs of survivors, and put in place robust recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration programs,” the commission said in a statement sent to this medium.
The commission also cited that despite the government enacting NAATIP Act, it has failed to meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking as per the ‘Trafficking in Persons Report, 2020.
“While the Government enacted the Trafficking in Persons Act 2007 and established the National Agency Trafficking in Persons (NAATIP) to fight human trafficking, the USA Department of State ‘Trafficking in Persons Report 2020’ found that The Gambia has been found to be a source, transit and destination for human trafficking. The Report placed Gambia on Tier 2 Watch list because the Government failed to meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and that it needs to prosecute traffickers,” NHRC stated.
The Commission further said that during one of its monitoring visits to migrant detention facilities this year, it found out that more than 40 migrants were being trafficked to Italy through The Gambia.
The NHRC informed that in October 2019, it has investigated the case of 29 alleged victims/survivors of trafficking who returned to The Gambia from Lebanon. Key findings of the said investigation showed the victims/survivors [women] were trafficked through an established system that was set up both in The Gambia and in Lebanon which promised the young women good jobs but ended up subjecting them to ‘inhuman and degrading treatments’.
“These cases demonstrate that human trafficking is indeed happening in The Gambia and highlights the need for urgent State action to address the phenomenon. The Commission presented key recommendations, following the investigation of the Lebanon case, some of which the Government, through NAATIP, acted on,” the NHRC added in the statement.
The human rights commission explained the context of human trafficking and the need to address it in the country.
“Human trafficking is a crime that exploits vulnerable groups, especially women and children. Traffickers use fraudulent means and offer fake incentives to lure their victims who have hopes of a better life outside of their home or country. In order to effectively combat human trafficking, policies and laws must address the risks and consequences of human trafficking and exploitation. The Government must take strong action to effectively prevent human trafficking in The Gambia,” NHRC stated.
The Commission said to effectively curb human trafficking in The Gambia, the Government should: “Ensure strict enforcement of the laws such as the 1997 Constitution, The Children’s Act 2005, Trafficking In Persons Act 2005, strenuously investigate allegations of human trafficking and prosecute all alleged perpetrators of human trafficking. Provide NAATIP with all the necessary human, financial, technical and other resources to carry out its mandate effectively and efficiently. Provide law enforcement agencies and other relevant State institutions with the necessary resources and training to effectively combat human trafficking. Establish the ‘Funds for Victims of Trafficking’ as envisaged in the Trafficking in Persons Act 2007 to provide appropriate support to victims of human trafficking. Provide more job opportunities for the youths, including incentives like soft loans and other forms of support, to venture into self-employment, as well as establish well equipped, vocational/skills centres throughout the country. Intensify awareness raising on trafficking in persons and about the exploitative nature of the Kafala system under which these women were trafficked. Intensify engagement with victims and survivors, as well as organisations representing them, and ensure their active participation in the implementation of support programmes.”
Annually, across the globe, thousands of women, men and children become victims of human trafficking. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime [UNODC], human trafficking is the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people through force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them for profit.”
This year’s theme for the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons “Victims voices lead the way”, highlights the importance of listening to and learning from survivors of human trafficking.