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Hamat Bah comments on recent report of human rights experts

Nov 20, 2014, 10:13 AM | Article By: Njie Baldeh

The leader of National Reconciliation Party, Hamat Bah, has said the “bad” report presented by a group of experts who were sent by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights at the invitation of the Government of The Gambia was very “disappointing”.

The NRP leader, who was speaking at a press briefing at his political bureau yesterday, told journalists that it would have been better for the UN experts to be allowed to do their job the way they wanted, than to obstruct them from doing their investigations.

In the first place, he added, everybody should have commended the Gambia government for inviting the UN experts to investigate and put the records straight, had the government allowed the experts to complete their job.

They could have gone back to write a comprehensive report with a view to improving the image of the country outside, Bah stated.

“As we all know, the image of the country is seriously bad when it comes to human rights,” he added.

Hamat Bah said inviting the UN experts to The Gambia was a good step, which they as a party really appreciated and thought it was a new opening for the Gambia Government toward the international community.

However, he added, “unfortunately” when these people came and were wrapping up their mission, “they gave us some disturbing news” that they were “obstructed and prevented” from doing their job the way they had wanted it, he said.

He added that the experts, according to their news release, wanted to assess the situation of Mile 2 but unfortunately they were not allowed to have access to the detainees in order to interview them and check those in death row. “The United Nations Special Rapporteurs Christof Heyns and Juan Mendez have been prevented from completing torture and killing investigation during the first visit ever to The Gambia by experts of the independent fact-finding mechanism of the Human Rights Council Special Procedures,” the UN Special Rapporteurs’ news release stated.

Commenting on this “unfortunate situation” , the NRP leader said: “This has never happened in this country, and that was something that came as a shock to many of us who thought that there is a new beginning and a new page for the Government of The Gambia to address the issue of human rights concerns in the country.”

Mr Bah further said it was a very serious misjudgment and “whoever might have given that instruction did not know the repercussion that it could bring to the Government of The Gambia.

“This was absolutely a serious mistake for them to do that,” he said.

“You cannot invite somebody, and you start obstructing him from doing the job he wanted to do,” Hamat Bah declared. Bah added that The Gambia would pay a heavy price for it, as “it would bring a bad image for the country, bad for the investment portfolio, and bad for people who want to come and invest in The Gambia”.“It would have been better they allowed the UN experts to continue their investigation and come out with whatever report they wanted, andthen work with them to see how they can address whatever concerns or outcome of the investigation these people would have presented to the international community.

“This government is failing to read history, which is rather unfortunate,” he added.The NRP leader said similar human rights issues have been referred to the UN Security Council by the UN organ, for redress at the International Criminal Court.