Justice minister presents decades of Gambia’s human rights Report

Monday, May 06, 2019

The Gambia on Thursday 2 May 2019 and for the first time since 1994, submitted its first State Report on the African Charter on Human and People`s Rights to the African Commission as well as its initial report on the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) at the 64th Ordinary Session of the Commission in Sharm El Shaikh, Egypt, according to a news release from Justice Ministry.

The report was presented by the attorney general and minister of Justice, Abubacarr Tambadou, who headed a 6-man government delegation consisting of the Solicitor General Cherno Marenah.

Pursuant to Article 62 of the African Charter, all state parties are expected to submit a report of their human rights situation to the Commission every two years. Since The Gambia had not submitted any report over the past 25 years, this report constituted a combined report for all the previous 12 reports due for submission.

The attorney general, while presenting the report, highlighted the human rights challenges of The Gambia since 1994, which provided the backdrop and context of the quarter of a century backlog of its reporting obligations to the commission. He outlined key constitutional and legislative, institutional and policy reforms currently being undertaken by the government.

Attorney General Tambadou also provided a progress report of the key achievements and challenges of The Gambia`s civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights situation as well as the rights and welfare of women.

Reacting to the report, the commissioners of the African Commission unanimously expressed satisfaction with The Gambia`s report, in both its content and its conformity with the commission`s guidelines. They also applauded the new leadership of The Gambia for the courage displayed in confronting the country`s human rights challenge and putting in place mechanisms to deal with the past and laying a solid foundation for its human rights architecture. The commissioners also raised a number of issues and questions.

The event was also attended by PS, Ministry of Health, Muhammadou Jaiteh, PS, Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, Bulli Dibba, the DPS, Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, Jerreh Sanyang and State Counsel Bafou Jeng. Also in attendance from The Gambia were the chairperson and the commissioner of the newly established National Human Rights Commission of The Gambia, Mr. Emmanuel D. Joof and Mr. Njundu Drammeh respectively.

He said the fact that government made no arrest on journalists, neither taking them before any law courts shows their commitment. He, however, admitted that there is more room for improvement.

President Barrow thumbs up Article 19 support to reform Gambia’s media laws.

President Adama Barrow has expressed appreciation to the support rendered by the international freedom expression organisation Article 19, in reforming draconian media laws that were inherited by his government.

Article 19 Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Mrs. Fatou Jagne-Senghore paid a courtesy call on President Barrow at the State House on Friday, coinciding with the World Press Freedom Day 2019.

The President assured the international human rights and freedom of expression advocates of his commitment to nurturing the right environment for freedom and democracy in The Gambia.

The President further expressed the political will to maintain the achievements registered in the global press and other freedom rankings for the country. 

He noted that despite the challenges in governance, the commitment of the team of experts and partners in government and civil society could make a difference for the Gambian people.

“The Gambia is bigger than all of us, we will continue to create the environment for democracy, human rights and the rule of law,” said President Barrow.

For Mrs. Jagne-Senghore, the Gambia’s transition is important to the work of her organisation. The group had provided 18 months of technical support to the government through the Ministry of Information and Communications Infrastructure to review all media laws. The programme has set into motion a sustained process of reform that will create the right environment for freedom of expression in The Gambia.

The review process is complete and the Cabinet has considered and approved the reform of these laws to bring them to international standards. Pertinent to these reforms is the Freedom of Information and the Access to Information legislations which the country urgently needs in order to enhance transparency of government and society at large.