Photo credit: The Sun

This story about paedophilia in The Gambia, perpetrated by some British tourists as reported by the SUN newspaper is mind-boggling and sad.

The photographs in the story are images of innocent Gambia children who have rights and protection from abuse and exploitation under the Constitution, Children’s Act, Tourism Offences Act, Trafficking in Persons Act, Sexual Offences Act, among other domestic legislation relating child rights promotion and protection.

Equally, there are guidelines and Regulations of child protection and responsible tourism which have been signed and supplied to hotels for implementation.

The presence of child sex tourism in the Gambia in 2020 is an exhibition of failures by duty -bearers, especially the state as the primary duty-bearer. The cited laws are robust, modern and to a greater extent adequate to curb child sex tourism in the Gambia. If they are implemented, certainly the Brits will not dare to venture into the Gambia to have sex with our children.

The owners and operators of hotels and tourist frequented areas must be apprehended and prosecuted for knowingly allowing sexual exploitation of minors on their premises.

Equally, landlords who rent out their premises to tourists and holiday makers must be alerted to the nefarious acts of the child sex offenders.

With the openness of the scenes in the photographs, one wonders whether the security officers in the TDA do not patrol the beach and the environs. The places in the photos are so conspicuous that the officers would not have had difficulties to apprehend the alleged sex offenders.

Child Sex Tourism is a reality in the Gambia and did not start with the collapse of the Thomas Cook. The child rights organisations such as CPA and others in the country, and GT Board must take the report as a lead to further investigate the occurrence and prevalence of pedophilia with a view to initiate police prosecution.

The Gambia used to be a Responsible Tourism Destination.

By Simon Sabally

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