Gambia is making notable steps to address trafficking in person- Gambia’s Delegation to Ecowas Parliament

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The Gambia’s delegation to the Ecowas Parliament said The Gambia has taken some notable steps in 2023 to address Trafficking in Persons in the Country, which saw The Gambia placed in Tier 2 category as per the US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report 2022.

The Gambia’s situational Report to the Ecowas Parliament covers a range of issues, including the country’s political, economic, security, and human rights situation, legal reforms and ratifications, and implementation of protocols, among others.

The Gambia’s delegation comprised Hon. Billay G. Tunkara, Hon Alhagie S Darboe, Hon Kebba K Barrow, Hon Samba Jallow, and Hon Fatoumata Njai.

Billay G Tunkara, Head of Delegation, noted that, in February 2023, the court convicted and sentenced one Jarome Jatta to 15 years imprisonment with a fine of D100,000 and, in default, to serve forty months imprisonment for human trafficking.

“Equally, in April 2023, the court convicted and sentenced one Jenifer Ozuem, a Nigerian, on two counts of trafficking and importation of persons to 15 years imprisonment and a fine of D50,000 for each count,” said Tunkara, who is also the Majority Leader in The Gambia’sGambia’s Parliament.

On the country’s economic situation, the ReportReport stated that in the first half of 2023, revenue and grants totaled D12.8 billion (10.4% of the GDP), representing a 21% increment compared to D10.6 billion (8.6% of GDP) in the corresponding period of 2022. It stated that the rise resulted from increased grants and domestic revenue.

“Tax revenue in the first half of 2023 reached D6.9 billion (5.7% of GDP), showing a 25% increase from D5.6 billion (4.5% of GDP) in the same period of 2022. The rise was primarily attributed to the successful implementation of ASYCUDA World and the establishment of the dry port. Non-tax revenue increased from D1.3 billion (2.7% of GDP) in 2022 to D1.4 billion (1.2% of the GDP), indicating a 7% increase in 2023. The improvement was driven by the repayment from GSM (GSC Share Capital). 21.6 Additionally, proceeds from the Senegambia Toll Bridge increased in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. 21.7 On the expenditure side, total public spending for the first half of 2023 rose by 16%, increasing from 14.3 billion (13.8% of GDP) in the first half of 2022 to D16.7 billion (11.7% of GDP). This increase stemmed from a 40.2% growth in capital expenditure and a 0.4% rise in recurrent expenditure.”

The delegation said The Gambia’s political environment under President Adama Barrow’s leadership continues to create a conducive environment for all political players.

It stated: “As the political landscape in the country continues to grow on a positive note, more efforts are being focused on reinforcing democracy and good governance in line with the goals of our transitional justice process. The Gambia remains politically stable, vibrant, and a conducive environment for all political stakeholders. Gambians have greater freedom to express political views under the Barrow administration.”

On the security situation, the delegation said The Gambia is relatively calm and peaceful generally and has registered significant successes within the Security Sector, including the Security Sector Reform (SSR).

“However, the country experienced an unfortunate incident and tragedy in September 2023 for the first time in our nation’s history since independence. The shooting incident tragically resulted in the death of two police officers and another critically injured by a lone gunman called Ousainou Bojang. The incident took place at Sukuta Traffic Light Junction, where he (the gunman) fired the gun at police officers who were actively on duty. The suspect escaped the scene, but after a few days of intensive manhunt by security, he was later apprehended and arrested in Jululung, Casamance, in the Southern part of Senegal. He is currently being prosecuted on charges of murder, attempted murder, and grievous bodily harm,” the Report stated.

According to the delegation’s head, The Government of The Gambia is committed to the domestication of ECOWAS Protocols and Conventions, as The Gambia continues to monitor the implementation of several ECOWAS programs and community texts.

“The Government and its institutions responsible for the levy continue to fully comply with the ECOWAS Protocol on Community Levy. All levies collected by The Gambia Revenue Authority are remitted directly into the ECOWAS account at the Central Bank of The Gambia, to which the Commission has full access and can withdraw funds anytime. The National Eco Levy Committee monitors the implementation of the protocol on community levy through quarterly assessment of the collection reported by The Gambia Revenue Authority. The last quarterly reconciliation was conducted on 16 August 2023.”

On gender equality, the ReportReport stated that the national parliament has legislated many laws such as the Women’s Act 2010, Children’s (Amendment) Act 2016, Sexual Offences Act 2013, Domestic Violence Act 2013, Disability Act 2020, and Women Enterprise Fund Act 2020).

On the status of Children, Hon Tunkara said in July 2023, the Presidential Task Force was set up to probe into the death of children due to AKI presenting its ReportReport to the President.

The Report recommended that the Government of The Gambia permanently revoke the importation license issued to Atlantic Pharmacy Company Limited and its Directors.

“It was recommended that the government, through the Ministry of Health, review the laws and regulations governing the issuance of pharmaceutical import licenses. It also recommended that stringent conditions be in place to ensure importers are approved based on their qualifications and operate with high accountability and responsibility, rather than being motivated by profit.”

On the human rights situation, the delegation said, In May 2023, the Ministry of Justice released the Government’s Implementation Plan (White Paper) on the Recommendations of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC) – 2023-2027.

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