By Abdoulie John

A two-day seminar centred on the theme “Addressing 2020 Trafficking In Persons Reporting Questionnaire” ended Wednesday with a renewed commitment to combat trafficking in persons (TIP). The high level meeting on the fight against the global threat kicked-off Tuesday and was punctuated by a significant participation by the Gambian government, including Vice-President Dr. Isatou Touray.

“This is a national responsibility, and anybody can be a victim,” said the Director General, Department of Strategic Policy & Delivery, Alhagie Nyangado, in his closing remarks as the meeting was wrapping up at Labranda Coral Beach Resort located in Brufut, some 22 km away from Banjul.

The tiny West African nation was downgraded in US 2019 TIP report for failing to put up enough efforts to combat human trafficking. The two-day conclave was held with a view to come up with a strategy that would inexorably boost gov’t anti-TIP efforts.

Nyangado said the forum provided a platform for participants to accept, express their different understanding of the questionnaire until they reach a common consensus. He then commended participants for giving their best to answer the challenging questions.

“This is the beginning. This how we would expect our future questionnaires to be filled,” he added while indicating that the task remains to be concluded comprehensively.

He went further to indicate that the involvement of Vice-President Dr. Isatou Touray is illustrative of gov’t commitment to ensuring that the menace of trafficking in persons is uprooted.

The Executive Director of the National Agency Against Trafficking In Persons (NAATIP), Tulai Jawara Ceesay, told this medium that The Gambia has ratified the Palermo Protocol, which aims to prevent, suppress and punish those involved in trafficking in persons.

“Every year, we have a reporting format which is from the US Department of State, to give an update on efforts that the government of The Gambia is taking in combating TIP,” she explained.

Last year, she went on, The Gambia was downgraded in US TIP report to “Tier 3”, and assured they have looked at the recommendations.

“We have been working in implementing those recommendations,” she said.

She expressed hope that in the 2020 report, the country will move to”Tier 2″ or “Tier 1”.

She then cited setbacks the agency went through as they are confronted with insufficient budget allocation and difficulty of obtaining possible conviction.

NAATIP top official confided to this medium that cases are prosecuted in court. But she was quick to add: “Sometimes, witnessses do not come forward to testify due to stigmatisation.”

Under these circumstances, she made it clear that it will be practically impossible to secure a conviction.

“We are now have three cases in court, and we hope to secure a conviction on labor migration exploitation and sexual exploitation,” she remarked.

Ends

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