. By Yankuba Jallow
Chief Magistrate Omar Cham of the Banjul Magistrate’s Court on Monday convicted and sentenced two men for attempted human trafficking.
The two in the persons of Ousainou Joof, a Senegalese national and Samsideen Colley a Gambian citizen, were charged based on Section 35 subsection 1 of the Trafficking in Persons Act.
According to their particulars of offence, the two together with one Ebrima Manneh who is still at large and Baye Lad Gaye, also at large, sometime in November 2021 at Gunjur and diverse places, jointly mobilised and received various sums of money from individuals for the purpose of facilitating their travel through a vessel to the Canary Islands in Spain, which act is detrimental to their lives. The accused persons both pleaded guilty to the charge.
According to the Act, a Trafficker is one engaged in trafficking and Chief Magistrate Cham cited Section 28 of the Act which prohibits trafficking and makes it an offence. Trafficking in persons according to the Act means the recruitment of, provision of, transportation of, transfer of, harbouring of, receipt of, or trading in, person.
Section 35 subsection 1 of the Trafficking in Person Act provides that where a person is charged with an offence under the Act and the evidence establishes an attempt to commit that offence, he or she may be convicted of having attempted to commit that offence although the attempt is not separately charged and the person shall be punished as prescribed for the offence under the Act.
Section 28 subsection 4 of the Act provides for the punishment for human traffiking offences.
It states that a person who commits a human trafficking offence is liable upon conviction to a fine of not less than fifty thousand dalasi and not exceeding five hundred thousand dalasi, in addition to imprisonment for a minimum term of fifteen years and maximum of life imprisonment.
Prosecuting officer Chief Superintendent Malang Jarju in leading the evidence said the accused persons were arrested while they were preparing for the journey in Barra; that they were taken to the Tanji Immigration Post and were subjected to interrogation. He informed the court that a search was conducted and some items were found in their possession, and among them were four barrels of fuel, a Yamaha machine, a boat, sugar, milk powder and five packets of biscuits.
Superintendent Jarju said when the accused persons were cautioned, they both admitted that they were about to embark on the perilous journey to Spain. The two accused persons both informed the court that the facts as narrated by the prosecutor was accurate and photos of the items were tendered and marked as exhibit.
In his judgment and pursuant to Section 29 of the Criminal Code, Chief Magistrate Cham exercised his discretion to fine each of the accused persons D50,000 in default to serve the mandatory jail term of fifteen years, and further ordered for all the items confiscated to be handed to the Funds for Victims of Trafficking