The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) has made damning revelations about The Gambia over its human rights issues saying the country have more than 10 outstanding reports to the ACHPR due to failure in past two decades to comply with its reporting obligations under Article 62.
This revelation is contained in a context note circulated on Friday during the opening of the 59th ACHPR Session and 28th Ordinary Session of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.
Under the theme: ‘Women’s Rights – Our Collective Responsibility’, the session is a culmination of celebrations marking ‘the year of human rights, with special focus on the rights of women’.
It brings together Commissioners from the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Foreign Ministers from Member States, dignitaries from various organs of the African Union, the African Court, state delegates, National Human Rights Institutions and Non Governmental Organizations.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights says it has over the past years raised concerns over The Gambia government’s continued violations of human rights and its lack of respect for the rule of law and due process. It has documented these concerns in press releases, resolutions, and in the special mechanisms reports all of which have been ignored by The Gambia government, acting with total impunity.
“The government of The Gambia also continues to resist promotional and fact finding missions requested by the ACHPR despite the fact that it hosts the ACHPR” it stated.
As The Gambia host the 59th Session of the ACHPR and the celebration of the Year of Human Rights with a focus on women, the ACHPR says it is time not to look aside on the violations taking place in their faces.
“The ACHPR and all AU organs must seize this context to address the poor human rights record of The Gambia by calling on President Jammeh and his government to release all political detainees and to refrain from further abuses in advance of the December Presidential elections. The ACHPR should consider a follow up to its Resolutions especially Res: 299 and conduct a fact finding mission ahead of the elections” it noted.
On December 1st, Gambians will go to the polls to vote for a president for the fifth time since current ruler Yahya Jammeh came to power in a 1994 coup.
Gambia’s already troubling human rights situation has deteriorated further in advance of the election.
According to ACHPR, it started with the death of opposition activists Solo Sandeng in April 2016 whiles in custody, followed by the arrests of more than 90 opposition members.
“A total of 30 of them arrested were sentenced to three (3) years for taking part in peaceful protests. Many protesters have reported like Sandeng that they were severely beaten while in detention. Women protesters were sexually assaulted suffering untold indignation” the ACHPR context note revealed.
Meanwhile, among the most important topics of discussion at the ongoing session is the crackdown of freedom of expression and Assembly ahead of the Presidential election which brings together key players such as Article 19, Human Rights Watch and other human rights organization to brainstorm.
The session ends on November 4th, 2016.