It could be recalled that The Gambia was downgraded to tier 3 in the 2019 report, which means the Government of The Gambia did not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. A country’s tier ranking measures the country’s efforts to combat trafficking as measured against Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA 2000).
Following that undesirable ranking in the 2019 report, the Government of The Gambia intensified its efforts to not only reverse this adverse ranking, but also to holistically address the phenomenon of trafficking in persons in the country. In this effort, the Department of Strategic Policy and Delivery (DSPD) at the Office of the President was tasked to coordinate, in collaboration with NAATIP, Government efforts to address the human trafficking intervention gaps outlined in the 2019 report that led to the downgrading to tier 3.
Through the concerted efforts of all stakeholders and the support of development and donor partners, several achievements were registered during the 2020 reporting period which led to the upgrading to 2 watchlist. Key among these achievements are strengthening the investigative capacity and capability of NAATIP with 9 additional investigators compared to 3 before, documenting all TIP cases before courts and regularly monitoring stages of the proceedings, assigning TIP focal points at all border/entry points including Banjul International Airport, creation of a toll-free hotline for reporting trafficking and significantly increasing efforts to raise public awareness of trafficking, including child sex trafficking amongst others. Significant progresses have also been made in improving security and safety measures at the Department of Social Welfare (DSW) Bakoteh Shelter, the development of National Referral Mechanism (NRM) for the protection and assistance of Victims of Trafficking (VoTs) in The Gambia and standard operating procedures(SOP’s) for identification and referral of VoTs.
NAATIP as an Agency is committed to working with all stakeholders in the implementation of the TIP Action Plan and shall leave no stone unturned in the fight against human trafficking and other organised crimes to fulfill its mandate.
The public is hereby assured that NAATIP is currently investigating all reported and suspected cases of trafficking in persons in the country and will vigorously prosecute any body found wanting in line with its mandate as set out in the Trafficking in Persons Act 2007 of the Republic of The Gambia.
It is worthy to note that The Gambia secured 3 convictions on 7th July 2021 at the Brikama Magistrates court as the suspects pleaded guilty to a charge of Trafficking in Persons through smuggling of Migrants and the suspects were charged a fine of 50, 000 Dalasis and 15 years imprisonment under section 28 of the trafficking in persons Act 2007.
It is equally worthy to note that the set of recommendations for the Republic of the Gambia in the US TIP Report 2021 is well received and the Government of the Gambia through NAATIP and concerned State actors will endeavor to implement the said recommendations during the reporting year.
NAATIP wish to commend its stake holders, especially its Board of Directors, the Ministry of Justice, Department of Strategic and Policy Delivery (DSPD) at the Office of The President, Office of The Vice President, GAMCOTRAP, Victims of Trafficking, International Organisation for Migration (IOM), CPA, CEDAG, ISRA, CSCCTS, NAPTIP Federal Republic of Nigeria, ICMPD Abuja Office, ECOWAS Commission TIP UNIT and The CNLTP Republic of Senegal for their support and collaboration.
The Agency wishes to renew its call for all hands to be on deck, to work together harder than ever before to not only ensure that The Gambia does not slip back to tier 3, but to move out of tier 2 watchlist to tier 2 and eventually to the most desirable tier 1 ranking.
The Government of the Gambia is particularly grateful to the US Department of State for making available funds through IOM to complement the Government’s efforts in combating Trafficking in Persons
Finally, the Government of The Gambia wishes to reaffirm its commitment and determination to address all the intervention gaps identified in the reports and to put in place mechanisms to help address the systemic problems to combat TIP in The Gambia for a human Trafficking free Gambia. The Government shall not relent in its commitment to raise awareness, to pursue and prosecute the perpetrators of this heinous crime against humanity.