Patricia Alsup, US Ambassador to the Gambia

For the second consecutive year, the Gambia has been named among countries that are taking significant steps to eliminate human trafficking.

The Gambia was last year upgraded to Tier 2 Watch List of the US State Department after it made key achievements. The Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report is the US Government’s principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on the issue of human trafficking.

It is also the world’s most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-human trafficking efforts and reflects the US Government’s commitment to global leadership on this key human rights and law enforcement issue. It represents an updated, global look at the nature and scope of trafficking in persons and the broad range of government actions to confront and eliminate it.

According to the report, “The Government of the Gambia does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so.

“The government demonstrated significant efforts during the reporting period by identifying and providing services to an increased number of potential trafficking victims, assisting with repatriation of Gambian child trafficking victims exploited abroad, and continuing efforts to prevent child forced begging in Quranic schools.

“However, the government did not demonstrate increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period. It did not initiate any trafficking investigations, complete any trafficking prosecutions, or sufficiently fund the National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons (NAATIP), which severely impeded its ability to investigate trafficking reports and implement the anti-trafficking national action plan. Therefore the Gambia remained on Tier 2 Watch List for the second consecutive year.”

The report made several recommendations for the Gambia which include: “Adequately fund NAATIP so it can investigate all reported trafficking cases and implement the anti-trafficking national action plan; direct and fund law enforcement to investigate all alleged trafficking cases brought forward by civil society, including cases of child sex tourism; vigorously investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers, including complicit government officials; develop and train government officials on standard procedures to identify trafficking victims, including among people in prostitution and other vulnerable groups; train law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges to investigate and prosecute all forms of trafficking using the 2007 Trafficking in Persons Act; raise awareness of child sex trafficking among civil society, including how to report cases; amend the labor law to extend protections to domestic workers; allow trafficking victims to leave shelters at will; and increase funding and training for social workers to provide trafficking victims adequate social services.”

In releasing the 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report, United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said; “We saw some positive movements across entire regions as well. Of the 48 African countries included in the report, 14 received upgrades – meaning we observed a strong trend of increased efforts to improve their overall response. Despite significant security threats, migration challenges, other financial constraints, and other obstacles, the region improved significantly. The world should know that we will not stop until human trafficking is a thing of the past.”

United States Ambassador to the Gambia, C. Patricia Alsup offered her comments: “Congratulations to the Government of The Gambia for not sliding in the Department’s reporting. We especially thank NAATIP and all the stakeholders who fight against human trafficking. However, there is still more work to be done. I am hopeful that the Government of The Gambia will strengthen its collaboration with all stakeholders in accelerating progress and addressing the bottlenecks in fighting the evil of human trafficking until The Gambia is considered a Tier 1 country.”