Monday, September 21, 2020

Gambia yet to meet minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking

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The United States Department of State, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo on Thursday said the Government of The Gambia is making significant efforts in combatting human trafficking, but does not yet fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of the menace.

Below is the full text of the release issued by the United States Department of State.

Today at the United States Department of State, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo released the 2020 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, upgrading The Gambia to Tier 2 Watch List. The report notes that the Government of The Gambia is making significant efforts in this important area but does not yet fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.

The United States congratulates the Gambian government, the National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons, law enforcement and justice sector entities, civil society organizations and key partners in the advancements made this past year to combat trafficking. These modest advancements include increased investigations, identifying more trafficking victims, improving security at the Department of Social Welfare shelter, coordinating with international organizations to increase training for officials, and significantly increasing efforts to raise public awareness of trafficking, including of child sex trafficking. In addition, the government encouraged former president Yahya Jammeh’s victims of sexual exploitation to testify at the Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission. Many of these efforts were facilitated by the International Organization for Migration via a grant from the United States government, with an array of Gambian civil society organizations and international partners playing a vital role in promoting activities to combat trafficking and support victims.

Despite these achievements, the government did not convict a trafficker for the third consecutive year, victim services remained inadequate overall, and some law enforcement officers allegedly requested bribes to register trafficking complaints.

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Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, a country can remain at Tier 2 Watch List for only two years and must address identified deficiencies to progress fully to Tier 2 within that time or be automatically downgraded to Tier 3. The annual rating cycle begins on April 1 and ends on March 31. We encourage the Gambian Government to expand on the good work undertaken over the past year and redouble efforts in the following critical areas: direct and fund law enforcement to investigate all reported trafficking cases, including those brought forward by civil society; investigate those accused of taking bribes to do their duty under the laws of The Gambia; increase efforts to vigorously investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, including allegations of child sex tourism; cease using extra-judicial or administrative remedies to resolve human trafficking cases; develop and train government officials on comprehensive standard procedures to proactively identify trafficking victims, including among people in commercial sex and other vulnerable groups.

Human trafficking represents a threat to international peace and security. It undermines the rule of law, robs millions of their dignity and freedom, enriches transnational criminals and terrorists, and threatens public safety and national security everywhere. The message could not be clearer: addressing human trafficking at home takes willingness to challenge misperceptions of what human trafficking is or is not, and unwavering determination – and accountability – at all levels of governance. The annual Trafficking in Persons publication documents the efforts of the governments of 187 countries and territories, including the United States and The Gambia, to combat human trafficking. Under the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, it is the responsibility of governments to address all forms of human trafficking within their own country and take targeted steps to tackle this serious problem. Neither the United States nor The Gambia are immune from the continued scourge of human exploitation. It is our sincere desire to continue to partner with the government and the people of The Gambia to ensure that trafficking victims are cared for, and the government of The Gambia uses its rule of law mechanisms to fully enforce Gambian law and bring the perpetrators of such exploitation of human beings to justice.

The full Trafficking in Persons report, including The Gambia country narrative, can be found online at: https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report/

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