19’s West Africa Regional Director, Fatou Jagne Senghore, said “For 22 years,
many Gambians suffered from horrific human rights violations – from murder and torture to arbitrary arrests
and detention. Today is a chance for them to get their long-awaited justice and
for their perpetrators to face the full force of the law.
“This is a key milestone in the Gambia’s history and a step towards healing and reconciliation. The right to information and the right to truth should be the guiding principles in the transition process. Only with full transparency and accountability can the Gambia come to terms with its past, restore confidence in its institutions and make sure that these violations do not happen again.”
Between 1994 to 2016, under President Yahya Jammeh’s regime, Gambian citizens suffered numerous human rights violations. These included murder, extra judicial killings, torture, enforced disappearances, physical assaults, arbitrary arrests and detention, the arbitrary closure of media outlets and the systemic intimidation and harassments of influential and critical voices who spoke out. These violations were perpetrated by the security forces and condoned by a compromised judiciary with blatant disregard for international human rights standards. There were no mechanisms for access to justice for victims of human rights violations and the perpetrators were not punished.
As part of this truth and reconciliation process, ARTICLE 19 is calling for:
· prompt, thorough and effective investigations to identify the correct victims of human rights violations and bring perpetrators to justice;
· reparations that can easily be accessed by victims of human rights violations;
· the Government to reinforce structural, and legal reforms including the establishment of constitutional oversight bodies;
· the TRRC to encourage the Government to ratify international treaties and submit pending reports at the regional and international human rights mechanisms;
· the strengthening of strategic partnerships with key stakeholders involved in transition process;
· special support and protection for women who have been victims of sexual abuse.
ARTICLE 19 is committed to working with the Government of the Gambia, the victims of human rights violations, the TRRC, CSOs, the media, the public and all other key stakeholders to make sure that the transition process instils respect for human rights, and brings reconciliation and peace.