UN Rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein told a session of the Human Rights Council that his office is awaiting a response from Gambian authorities for a joint human rights mission.
Mr. Hussein said he is hoping for a positive response from Banjul.
The UN Human Rights Commission requested clearance from The Gambia for the mission in hopes to address the small West African nation’s detoriating rights conditions and threats of genocide.
The commission has been prompted to action by President Yahya Jammeh’s contentious threats of ethnic cleansing, excessive use of force by security forces, as well as alleged killings of opposition detainees and other violence against protestors towards a crucial presidential run.
“We have been alarmed by instances of inflammatory speech, as well as alleged violence against protestors in the context of the electoral campaign, and more recently, death in detention, and reported torture and ill-treatment of detainees,” Hussein said at the UN.
President Yahya Jammeh, who declared the country an Islamic Republic threatened to kill the Mandingo people “like ants.” At least two opposition detainees that have died are from the tribe and Jammeh said he won’t open an investigation into the deaths.
“Is he the only person that died in custody,” Jammeh said of one of the detainees, Ebrima Solo Sandeng. “I will not open any investigation. Ban Ki Moon and the international community can go hell.”
Jammeh strongly believes he does not have political opponents but “enemies of the state.”
Given the potentially serious repercussions of any further decline in the situation, international observers agree it is urgent to assist Gambian authorities to maintain respect for all human rights.
Gambians go to the polls in December with incumbent President Yahya Jammeh seeking for fifth term. The electioneering period is already marred by violence as the country’s leading opposition United Democratic Party leader Ousainou Darboe, senior executive members and supporters were “unjustly” jailed in July, others died in state custody and reports emerged of denying medical care to opposition detainees.
Meanwhile, other political parties also joined the race. The latest among them is a female independent candidate, the first of its kind in the history of the former British colony.