Trafficking in persons: a global menace
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Last Tuesday, June 10th, marked the commencement of another round of discourse on what has become a challenging phenomenon for the world’s poorer nations (although it is not restricted to them) especially the continent of Africa. The three day ECOWAS meeting on the implementation of the sub-regional body’s plan of action to combating trafficking in persons no doubt highlights the level of seriousness the authorities attach to the subject.
The fact that it is being discussed in The Gambia suggests our unflinching readiness to help curb the menace. But regardless of the aggressive nature with which we tackle the matter, the absence of one very key measure will seriously limit any possitive effect of our efforts. And this is awareness raising.
Earlier in 2007, President Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh appended his signature on the Traffiking in Persons Act. That land mark move demonstrates The Gambia government’s commitment to accomodate the Criminal Code to international statndards. This was of course mentioned by the honorable SoS, Marie Saine-Firdaus, during her opening statement at the meeting, at Jerma Beach Hotel.
The phenemenon of trafficking in persons, has become a vicious circle of abuse and a security threat within the Western Africa sub-region and, by extension, the rest of the world.
By recognising that human trafficking, particularly involving children, is a major violation of human rights and that it has grave consequences for economic development, The Gambia is taking an enomous stride towards safeguarding the dignity and sanctity of not only its own citizens but the rest of humanity. This is in fact in line with international conventions outlawing trade in humans, as it is meant ‘‘to prevent, supress and punish those engaged in the trafficking in persons and to rehabilitate and reintegrate victims of trafficking and for other matters connected therewith,’’ as the SoS stated.
This law also seeks to contribute to the global fight against human trafficking by analyzing factors that lead to trafficking of women and children and by promoting culturally appropriate responses.
As the phenemenon is becoming more and more serious, it is expected that the law will help to raise awareness on trafficking as a modern form of slavery and possible ways to abolish it.
Appropriate strategies should therefore be implemented at the sub-regional level in order to improve on understanding of the factors related to human trafficking in African sociocultural context; facilitate the transfer of knowledge, experiences and best practices, and inspire African local, national and regional initiatives, in their fight against trafficking in humans.
However, we must admit that in order to succeed in tackling this global threat, there is a need to promote interaction and cooperation between researchers, decision-makers, representatives of international organisations and the civil society, on this issue, as well as raising awareness on the issue by conducting more awareness raising campaigns and training workshops for a wider audience.