Monday, June 5

NHRC urges Gov’t to provide adequate resources to NAATIP, Related Agencies

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By: Nyima Sillah

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has urged the Government to provide adequate resources to NAATIP, the Gambia Tourism Board, and other State agencies to raise awareness across the country on cyber-based trafficking, exploitation, and strengthen capacity for effective investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases.

Highlighting the issue in the State of Human Rights Report released by the Commission, NHRC noted that the Gambia remains in the Tier 2 category as per the US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report 2022. During the period under review, the National Agency against Trafficking in Persons (NAATIP) registered 54 cases of Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and its related offences.

For trafficking screening and services, the report said, in accordance with NRM procedures. The US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report 2022 notes that The Gambia government did not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons as the responsible institutions lack the human capacity to adequately deal with trafficking in persons, and corruption continues to affect operations.

The Commission encouraged the government of The Gambia to increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes and sentence convicted traffickers, including fraudulent labour recruiters, to significant prison terms. 

It also recommended constant training of law enforcement officers on trafficking in persons.

According to a statement delivered by the NAATIP Executive Director, there are three trafficking in-person cases ongoing in the courts, two on sexual exploitation and one on labor exploitation.

 “The Executive Director also stated that the Government initiated investigations of 14 suspects of alleged forced labor and sex trafficking and the courts convicted three defendants to 15 years imprisonment under anti-trafficking laws. 

“The report also stated that during an operation, the authorities intercepted 37 vulnerable individuals en route to the Canary Islands for potential exploitation; authorities referred all 37 individuals to an international organization Statement delivered by NAATIP Executive Director at a 3-day working Session on 2023 Trafficking in person questionnaire.”

However, NHRC also recommended the government enhance the capacity of NAATIP, the security agencies, and other relevant stakeholders to address the multi-dimensional facets of Trafficking, especially internet-based trafficking.

Meanwhile, the report recommended NAATIP conduct a situational analysis of TIP in The Gambia to have a holistic understanding of the phenomenon in the country. Adopt comprehensive national policies and programmes to effectively tackle the complex and varied dimensions of internet-based trafficking through security, human rights, and technology-based approaches. 

“Develop the requisite implementation plans and programmes for the effective implementation of the National Referral Mechanism for the Protection and Assistance of Vulnerable Migrants and Victims of Trafficking. Review the Trafficking in Persons Act 2007 and other relevant legislation to protect vulnerable internet users, and regulate labor recruitment agencies. Establish regional and international partnerships to address trafficking as a transnational organized crime,” the report stated.