State intelligence officers trained on human rights

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Press Release

The Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) has organised a three-day human rights capacity building workshop for The Gambia’s State Intelligence Services (SIS), formerly known as the National Intelligence Agency.

The training workshop, held on 25-27 September 2017, brought together 40 SIS officers.

Discussions, during the forum, included diverse and pertinent issues related to their functions, notably basic human rights concepts; fundamental rights in The Gambia’s Constitution; the right to personal liberty; prohibition of torture; arrest and search procedures; the rights of detainees; national security and human rights; as well as rights and treatment of women, children and non-national in conflict with the law.  All topics were discussed within the contexts of Gambian and international law.

Speaking at the opening of the workshop, UK Ambassador to The Gambia, H.E. Sharon Wardle expressed the wish of the UK to support the promotion of human rights and development in The Gambia, and expressed gratitude to the SIS management for its openness to issues of human rights which is pertinent for successful public security.

 On his part, the Director General of the SIS, Ousman Sowe, welcomed the initiative which he described as timely, as it fits into the ongoing reforms in The Gambia.

“Let human rights be the watch word for you in the exercise of your duties…Therefore, while you seek to enforce law, be guided by the principles of human rights and shun exercising excesses,” the SIS chief exhorted his colleagues.

 “IHRDA is committed to collaborating with State and non-States actors in The Gambia, especially through this period of reforms, in view of promoting the respect of rights in the country”, IHRDA’s Executive Director, Gaye Sowe, remarked.

He added that IHRDA is particularly delighted with the SIS and the entire public security corps for their willingness to embrace and develop the human rights culture in their services.     

 It should be noted that this human rights capacity building program for the SIS is funded by the British Embassy in Banjul. It will include a second training workshop for another set of officers and will facilitate the participation of two SIS officers in a short human rights course in the UK, to be followed by a training of trainers’ workshop to ensure in-house capacity for human rights education. The program will also include the development of a human rights manual for the SIS.