By Mustapha Jarju
The National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons (NAATIP) on Thursdays organized a daylong training for law enforcement officers and prosecutors working with the Gambia Police Force (GPF) on trafficking in Persons.
The training brought together the security officers from different units to exchange ideas and share experiences when it comes to crimes related to trafficking in persons and to brainstorm issues such as prosecutions, national mechanisms on trafficking, victim identification, and all other trafficking-related matters.
Isatou Dabo, Executive Director of NAATIP, described capacity building as one of the core tasks of her office, saying that trafficking in person is cross-cutting and also an important issue.
She urged that there is a need for the law enforcement officer and the police prosecutors to have the required skills in other to address issues of trafficking in persons in the Gambia, revealing that her office has trained transport officials which weren’t the first and this time they are training prosecutors who are key in the entire process of the matters in trafficking.
She further said that the ultimate objective of the training is to have a legal opinion to allow proceedings in court, and when the cases go to court the persons who are going to represent the cases either from the Gambia Police Force or whatever agency or ministry the prosecutors are from, they should be able to understand the elements of trafficking in persons.
“Investors in trafficking face numerous challenges, which include having victims who will be willing to tell their story concerning the issue of discrimination and not in a mental state to come out to share their story and this can result in the victim deciding to withdraw from investigations or not cooperating with investigators. And it may lead to a situation where the victim has a perpetrator who is a very close family member and they are not willing to testify against that individual, and without that victim, it is very difficult to carry with that case,” she pointed out.
Hulay Jallow, Cham Deputy Director General of the Gambia Immigration Department (GID) said trafficking in persons, especially women, and children, is a global phenomenon affecting countries worldwide regardless of political, social, and economic circumstances that govern them.
“Trafficking in various forms in the territory of the countries of origin, transit, and final destination and Gambia is not an exception. In continuation to curb this menace in our society the government of the Gambia enacted the Trafficking in Persons (TiP) Act 2003,” she said.
DIG Jallow Cham highlighted the consideration of the porous nature of our borders coupled with the rate at which globalization is expanding and called for the need for effective border checks and border surveillance which is more challenging and critical at the same time. “While we desire to swiftly facilitate movement across borders to enhance trade, economic growth, and human security, we must also put at the back of our minds that perpetrators of transnational organized crimes such as human trafficking, smuggling, drug peddling, and cross border-related crimes are threatening, also moving across borders,” she stated.