GAMBIAN JOURNALIST FACES PROSECUTION OVER U.S HUMAN TRAFFICKING REPORT

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IGP SONKO

IGP SONKO

SOURCE: JOLLOFNEWS

In the wake of a damning report on human trafficking published by the government of the United States, Police in The Gambia are set to charge a local journalist with “false publication” as the fallout from the Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Report unravels. Sanna Camara, a senior reporter with the privately owned Standard Newspaper is to be slapped with the charges after he was arrested and detained at the Bundung police station where he spent the whole of Friday night until his release on bail Saturday afternoon.

Mr Camara’s arrest relates to an article published in Friday’s edition of The Standard Newspaper, about the TIP Report, in which the police appeared to admit failures in tackling human trafficking in The Gambia. In the article titled “Police Admit Problems with Human Trafficking”, Camara interviewed the Police Spokesperson who ‘admitted’ that the country’s law enforcement agencies are confronted with “problems and challenges in tackling trafficking into and from The Gambia”.

ASP David Kujabi was quoted in the article as saying that one of the problems facing the police in tackling trafficking is that “victims or their families do not show willingness to go further with investigations”. Confirming his arrest and subsequent detention, Mr Camara told Jollofnews that the police have already prepared a cautionary statement and ordered him to report at the Major Crime Unit of the Police Headquarters in Banjul where he will be charged and later prosecuted for “false publication”.

In the TIP 2014 Report published on June 20, the U.S State Department singled out The Gambia for taking insufficient action against human trafficking after downgrading the West African country to Tier 3, the lowest possible ranking it gives for national responses to fighting modern day slavery. The report ranked Gambia among countries that failed to fully comply with the minimum standards and have not shown the U.S they are making significant efforts to do so.

It described The Gambia as “a source and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Within The Gambia, women, girls, and, to a lesser extent, boys are subjected to sex trafficking and domestic servitude. Women, girls, and boys from West African countries–mainly Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and Benin—are recruited for commercial sexual exploitation in The Gambia.”

A TIP Tier 3 status can result in the U.S government withholding or withdrawing non-humanitarian and non-trade related assistance to the countries concerned. Those countries could also face U.S opposition in obtaining development aid from international financial institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

If charged Sanna will be prosecuted under the Criminal Code Act which carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment or a fine of D250,000 ($6,000).  Two journalists, Lamin Fatty and Fatou Jaw Manneh had, in the past, been convicted of committing offences under this Act before it was amended to carry stiffer punishments.

Written by Abdoulie John


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