The African Union Special Rapporteur on rights to freedom of expression and access to information has been told by a leading media rights group in West Africa to strongly denounce the deteriorating human rights violations in the tiny West African nation of The Gambia.
The Media Foundation for West Africa urged the AU to make an intervention in The Gambia and denounce the gross and systematic human rights violations and culture of impunity under President Yahya Jammeh.
They also call on AU to impose and enforce sanctions on The Gambia for its persistent non-compliance and violations of its statutory obligations. Independently investigate freedom of expression violations in the various countries.
West African governments were encouraged to ensure that both state and non-state actors respect and protect the right to freedom of expression and Promote the safety and protection of journalists and media organizations. Ensure that security agents stop violating the rights of journalists and others exercising their right to freedom of expression.
The police and security forces were urged to cease committing acts of physical attacks, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and threats against citizens.
The ECOWAS has been encouraged to “ensure respect for the rights of journalists” and to impose and enforce sanctions on the Member States that recalcitrantly flout statutory, one of the key recommendations of the report highlights.
MFWA wants the African Commission Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information to undertake fact-finding missions in West African nations and as well monitor compliance of West African countries with the binding Lohé Issah Konaté judgment of the African Court concerning decriminalization.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion was also urged to intervene and call on the governments in West Africa, particularly in countries where violations have been recurring, to respect and protect freedom of expression rights.
Meanwhile, the foundation urged West African governments that are yet to pass and implement right to information laws that allow free flow of communication and information.