The government maintained modest efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims. The government identified and referred at least 91 potential trafficking victims to care, compared with identifying and referring 42 potential trafficking victims to care the previous reporting period. Among the 91 potential victims, law enforcement identified 88 Quranic students from Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, and Sierra Leone living in an abandoned building. The Department of Social Welfare (DSW) and the immigration department repatriated all of the children. The lack of formal identification procedures and screening for trafficking victims remained concerns; while law enforcement would in practice refer minors exploited in commercial sex to DSW for care, officials did not screen adults in prostitution for sex trafficking. Some border control agents had knowledge of trafficking and screened for trafficking among adults traveling with several minors. DSW operated a shelter for trafficking victims, abandoned children, and victims of domestic violence. The Ministry of Health allocated two million dalasi ($42,550) to the DSW shelter in 2017 and paid the salaries of 38 staff, the same as in 2016. The shelter offered 24-hour services, including counseling, to children, adults, males, and females; authorities did not allow victims to leave without a chaperone. The shelter could assist Gambian victims who had been exploited abroad after their repatriation, as well as both foreign and domestic victims. DSW also operated a drop-in center for street children. Shelters were concentrated around the capital, leaving some victims in rural areas without access to assistance. Many shelters lacked social workers trained to assist trafficking victims. Gambian authorities assisted with repatriation and family reunification for three Gambian children exploited in other West African countries. At the close of the reporting period, the government was in the process of securing funds to provide vocational training for nine trafficking victims repatriated from Lebanon in 2016.
The 2007 act allowed foreign victims to obtain temporary residence visas for the duration of legal proceedings, but there were no other legal alternatives provided in cases in which foreign trafficking victims removed to their countries of origin may have faced hardship or retribution. Victims could obtain restitution and file civil suits against their traffickers, but there were no reports that any such cases were filed during the reporting period. Although there were no reports that police detained, fined, or jailed trafficking victims for acts committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking, law enforcement did not screen for trafficking when detaining adults in prostitution, among other vulnerable groups, so trafficking victims could have remained unidentified in the law enforcement system.