By Ndey Sowe
In coordination with the Ministry of Justice and the National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons (NAATIP), the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has organized a four day training session for criminal justice practitioners (prosecutors, investigators, and law enforcement officers), to combat trafficking in persons in the Gambia.
The event which started at a local hotel within the Senegambia area yesterday Tuesday 9th November, will end on 12th November 2021. The capacity building initiative has been made possible with assistance from the US Government through the US State Department Office which monitors and combats human trafficking.
As the Gambia remains high on the US watch list of countries engaged in trafficking in persons, the four-day training aims to contribute significantly to counter trafficking efforts in the country, by strengthening prosecution capacities.
Significantly, the training will improve the understanding of prosecutors and law enforcement officers on the trend, problems and challenges in combating human trafficking in Gambia, as well as enhance their capacities in better protecting the rights of victims and witnesses in the administration of criminal justice.
Stephen Matete, programme officer for Immigration Border Management and Counter Trafficking at the IOM expressed optimistic that at the end of the training, participants will be able to understand the concepts of trafficking in persons and will also be able to identify and vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking in persons cases.
“Through this project, IOM has supported Government in reviving the National Task Force on trafficking in persons and supported four with supplies to assist victims of trafficking, to access immediate medical and psychosocial support,” Matete highlighted.
Kebba Touray, political and economic assistant from the US Embassy’s Banjul office said the US Government’s financial and technical assistance to a country, largely depends on its ranking in a particular year; that Gambia has been stuck between Tier 2 watchlist of the US Government and Tier 3 in recent years, which is not due to a lack of efforts.
Touray said Gambia Government through NAATIP in collaboration with the IOM, has worked tirelessly to ensure the recommendations in the annual report are implemented.
Toulai Jawara Ceesay, the executive director of NAATIP said her institution is working with countries across the world, to address the menace across borders; that in this respect, concerted efforts through coordination of all stakeholders in the fight against human trafficking in the Gambia, is indeed needed to help tackle the menace in our society.
Kumba Jow, the curator of Inter-State Estates at the Ministry of Justice, in representing her Minster, said human trafficking, is a form of modern day slavery and this is a terrible menace to society that involves the use of force, violence and fraud.
She said it is extremely difficult to come up with precise figures on the issues of trafficking in persons, due to the clandestine nature of operators and their operations, and that it is very scary that a good number of the victims of human trafficking are children.