NHRC chair reminds CSOs of their critical mandate

Thursday, August 22, 2019

The chairman of National Human Rights Commission (NHCR), Emmanuel Joof, has affirmed that CSOs have a critical role to play in the promotion, protection and advancement of human rights all over the world by virtue of their closeness to communities and women groups much especially marginalized communities.

“They can contribute a lot in sensitising the public on their human rights, monitor and report on very sensitive information about rights violations and therefore be an important partner with NHRC,” he said on Tuesday at a three-day training for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on Human Rights.

The training came in partnership with United Nations Peace Building, United Nations Human Rights office of the High Commissioner and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Mr. Joof acknowledged that NHRC has a very broad mandate which includes promoting and protecting human rights, building the capacity of rule of law actors with the view to creating a strong human rights culture in The Gambia.

“This workshop is part of the building blocks of creating the culture of human rights in this country,” he reminded participants.

He further stated that CSOs have been working on human rights issues in the country for many years and as a result, they have a very good understanding of the country’s context on the key challenges in the country in meeting its human rights obligations.

“They also play key role in ensuring that duty bearers know their rights and are empowered enough to claim those rights,” he said.

He pointed out that NHRC, by building the capacity of key Human rights sectors, will help in empowering CSOs to play a more active and effective role in securing sustainable human rights protection in the country.

Hussein Thomasi, special advisor to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, said it is a significant milestone to have the NHRC as a permanent institution that is geared towards the respect, promotion, protection and fulfilment of human rights.

“Other commissions that we have also established are the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission and the Constitutional Review Commission which are not permanent commissions and they are also independent commissions and act independent of government. A statue that established these bodies emphasised to them to carry out their work free from interference of any person or authority,” he stated.

For her part, deputy resident representative of UNDP Nessie Golakai, said upon assuming power in January 2017, the government of The Gambia reiterated its attention to restore democracy and abide by its international and domestic obligations to respect, protect, promote and fulfil human rights.

“NHRC amongst commissions being established stands out as a prominent and independent body created by the National Assembly of The Gambia to promote and protect human rights in The Gambia,” she said.

She noted that it is therefore expected to be a key and critical element for a strong and effective national human rights protection system helping to ensure the compliance of Gambian laws and practices of international standards and norms.

Ousman Yarboe, executive director TANGO, expressed gratitude for targeting the CSOs, adding that CSOs have a traditional way doing things which include establishing gardens for women groups and many other things.

“They have come to a period where they need to change their strategies and concentrate more on advocacy providing people with the knowledge and skills to be able to free themselves,” he suggested.

‘We must understand the concepts, skills knowledge to impact to our communities’ he said, adding that it will enable be able to ask for what rightfully belongs to them, protect what they own.

Author: Fatou B. Cham