The Gambia has accused the United State Government of being economical with the truth in its annual Trafficking in Persons report. In its 2014 report published in June, the US State Department named the West African nation as a source and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking.
It also accused the Government of President Yahya Jammeh of not fully complying with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so.
But the Gambian minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Abubacarr Senghore, said some of the contents in the report were grossly misrepresented and the Gambia is puzzled to be place in the lowest world ranking.
He said the Gambia has signed the protocol to prevent, suppress and punish those involved in trafficking in persons, especially women and children in conformity to the requirements of the UN convention against trans-national organised crime.
Dr Senghore added: “The Gambia is the second Ecowas member state to set up a trafficking in persons’ agency, after Nigeria and Niger – the only three such agencies in the entire sub region. Moreover, since 2007 the Gambia Police Force, Department of Social Welfare and other stakeholders have been sensitising and creating public awareness on the ills of street-begging and the negative consequences for school-age children.”
Further reacting to the report that many ‘Gambian boys attend Koranic schools where some corrupt or unscrupulous marabouts force such boys into begging and street vending, Dr Senghore described it as a misrepresentation of the facts.
“It should be noted that there are no almudos (child street beggars) in the streets of Banjul and its surroundings, as opposed to what exists in other countries in the sub region,” he said.
“The allegation that the Gambia government did not provide comprehensive law enforcement data on trafficking in persons is also a misrepresentation of the facts. There is adequate data on reported human trafficking cases in the Gambia.”
The chief diplomat added the Jammeh regime in further compliance with the Palermo Protocol and in complementing the efforts of the UN to eradicate this modern day form of slavery has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Committee against Trafficking in Persons of the Republic of Senegal to combat cross-border trafficking crimes between the two countries.
“It is surprising and disappointing to note that the political officers of the US Embassy in Banjul are aware of this collaborative engagement between the Gambia and Senegal, but regrettably this was not captured in the US report,” he said.
Dr Senghore added: “Most importantly, the Government of the Gambia, through its National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons, had this year taken bold steps to investigate some reported cases of human trafficking across its borders, specifically in Lebanon, where human trafficking of Gambian nationals is presently being reported.
“It is, however, gratifying to note that the Gambia’s unwavering commitment to pursuing culprits, creating awareness and deterring the practice of human trafficking in and across its borders, has been acknowledged in the report of the US State Department, despite the many other anomalies. This acknowledgement is all the more reason why placing the Gambia under Tier 3 in the world country ranking remains a big puzzle.
“As a country, the Gambia has been working at all levels, nationally, regionally and internationally to fight against trafficking in persons, and it is worthy to note that the same US Government report, which placed the Gambia in the lowest ranking, also commended its preventive measures and efforts, which shows that the Gambia is indeed responding positively to the fight against trafficking in persons.”
Written by JollofNews