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Creation of Human Rights Unit, good for country's image

Feb 7, 2011, 1:23 PM | Article By: Malamin Conteh

The move taken by the Ministry of Justice to create a human rights unit at the ministry is a step in the right direction.

To us, the initiative is long overdue, since human rights are very important and thus require serious attention.

This kind of initiative, if fully and effectively operational, can boost the country's human rights image.

It is the duty of every responsible government to promote and protect the fundamental human rights of its citizenry.

In fact, constitutionally, the Attorney General's Chambers and Ministry of Justice is an organ responsible for the enforcement and protection of fundamental human rights as enshrined in Chapter 4 of the 1997 Constitution.

We, therefore, commend the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General's Chambers for taking the giant step of establishing a human rights unit at the ministry.

The initiative would promote the protection and promotion of human rights in the country.

As the primary duty bearer to ensure respect for human rights, the Government must ensure that the rights of its citizenry are well protected irrespective of status or affiliation.

Obviously, human rights are the rights and freedoms of all human beings. Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that, "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

Similarly, Article 10 also stresses: "Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him."

Perhaps more pertinent in terms of today's Gambia is Article 19, which relates to free speech and free press. This article states that, "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

Therefore, going by these citations and others, one can simply conclude that human rights are not new, and must not be seen as something foreign to this country, or Africa in general.