U.S.: Gambia remains source for labor, sex trafficking

The Gambia is a source and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking, the Trump administration said in a new report.

According to the U.S. State Department Trafficking In Person Report, within The Gambia, women, girls, and—to a lesser extent—boys are subjected to sex trafficking, forced labor in street vending, and domestic servitude.

Travel agencies in the West African nation have been implicated by activists for using organized crimes to traffic mostly young Gambian girls to the Middle East.

Gambian women are subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking in these Middle Eastern countries, mostly United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Lebanon.

They are forced to work and live in inhumane and deplorable conditions, and their travel documents seized and wages forfeited.

“Human trafficking is one of the most tragic human rights issues of our time. It splinters families, distorts global markets, undermines the rule of law, and spurs other transnational criminal activity. It threatens public safety and national security,” said U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson.

“But worst of all, the crime robs human beings of their freedom and their dignity. That’s why we must pursue an end to the scourge of human trafficking.”

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

The country has moved from Tier 3 to Tier 2 since last year escaping a possible sanction for its inactions to curb the crime.

U.S. says the Gambia’s government made key achievements identifying and providing services to the first internal trafficking victims identified in four years; training law enforcement and border officials on identifying and referring cases of trafficking for investigation.

Gambian courts convicted and sentenced one trafficker to life imprisonment—its first reported conviction for a trafficking-related offense in four years.

U.S. urged Gambia’s new government to vigorously investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers with sufficiently stringent sentences and ensure no victims are detained before referred to social services.

The government of ex-President Yahya Jammeh increased efforts to protect trafficking victims.

The government identified and referred two sex trafficking victims and 40 child potential forced begging victims to social services.

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