Gambia seeks to assume its role as Africa’s human rights champion

Gambia seeks to assume its role as Africa’s human rights champion

The Gambia is seeking to regain its lost glory as the champion of human rights in Africa after emerging from the shadows of a decades-long autocratic rule.

The West African nation, which may be the first to boot out a dictator in an election and driving him out of the country without a shot being fired upon refusing to step aside is not hiding its desire to resume its regional leadership role in the human rights crusade in the continent.

Gambia is the birthplace of the African Chater on Human and Peoples Rights, also called the Banjul Charter, making it home to the continent’s human rights commission.

It nearly lost hosting the commission due to former President Yahya Jammeh’s blatant disregard for human rights. The former despotic ruler ignored repeated warnings from the commission.

Jammeh is accused of kidnapping, torturing, killing and detaining opposition activists, journalists, pro-democracy campaigners and human rights defenders.

Since new President Adama Barrow was sworn-in, he has emptied prisons of political detainees, opened investigations into allegations of human rights and pledged to establish a truth and reconciliation commission.

As a result, African Commission has unilaterally decided to hold its 61st Ordinary Session here in The Gambia in November 2017 despite requests by other States to host it.

With The Gambia getting a standing ovation for the strides in made in respect for and observance of human rights in this short time, it also means that standards for human rights and justice must be beyond reproach.

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