By Binta Jaiteh
The United Nation on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) trained journalists on the risks of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants in West Africa.
The three-day training held at Metzy Hotel was meant to look into the crucial role of journalists in reporting and raising awareness on the risks of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants in West Africa – PROMIS project.
Fatou Barry, National Project Officer (UNODC) said UNODC is the custodian of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and the protocol against the smuggling of migrants by land, sea, and air (protocol against the smuggling of migrants) as well as the protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children.
“Despite being one of the smallest countries in West Africa with a population of 2.1 million, The Gambia is a country of origin and is increasingly becoming a country of transit and return of migrants. Gambian nationals have ranked among the most common nationalities undertaking the Central Mediterranean route from Libya to Italy. We have the mandate to fight against migrants smuggling and human trafficking and our objective is to target the journalist because they raise awareness in the nation”, she said.
Sainey Bah, senior legal officer National Human Right Commission said human trafficking and smuggling of migrants have serious implications on the fundamental rights of human beings particularly victims.
“It can deprive victims of the freedom that is inherent in them that is based on the idea that every human being regardless of gender and sexual orientation is entitled to enjoy basic human rights.
There is a right to dignity and that dignity is inconsistent with the smuggling of migrants and trafficking of persons. The human right is applicable to everyone without distinction on any social and political issues,” Bah said.
He added: However if you look at the migration chain or trafficking of migrants you will realize that human rights are implicated in all the stages of the process be it migration or trafficking. To look at migration human rights issues are usually the factors that are reflected in the reason why people leave their communities for another community because of intolerance, discrimination, and to a certain extent poverty can be the reason.”
Sheriff Ceesay, Gambia Immigration Department and head of the risk analysis unit also said smuggling of migrants and trafficking is becoming a hotspot in the Gambia.
He noted that irregular migration is common in the Gambia because the country has porous borders from the North to the South and it is important for the journalist to be aware of this menace that the country is facing