Sep 7, 2009, 7:05 AM
Respect for human rights is essential for Gambia’s image and overall development.
The Gambia government owes all Gambians and non-Gambians alike resident in the country the full protection of their rights.
Having in place democratic institutions does not necessarily guarantee the protection of the rights of citizens.
What matters is adherence to the constitutional provisions which guarantee sthe fundamental rights of all Gambians.
We have said in this and other columns over and again, that fundamental human rights such as freedom of the press and freedom of expression, freedom from arbitrary arrest and torture, right to life, to own property and a host of other rights must be respected at all time.
In any country where people’s rights continue to be violated, the end result is always negative as they would end up defending their God-given rights by all means.
Respect for human rights simply means the guaranteed opportunity to enjoy inalienable rights, such as the right to live a dignified life, free from fear; a life which affords him or her the freedom to pursue personal development to the extent to which he or she is capable of doing.
Human rights, therefore, encompass not only the right to personal safety and security, but also giving due regard to health, education, gender equality and child rights, etc.
Everyday concerns, such as issues of access to safe drinking water, basic health care, clean air free from pollution, access to means of transport and communication, all have much to do with human rights.
Most African dictators have the feeling that issues such as human rights and democracy are foreign, and as such continue to disregard them.
They must respect the rights of their citizens or risk a dishonourable end to their dictatorship.