Oct 21, 2011, 2:00 PM
United Kingdom has officially delivered a frank, forthright and candid
statement on The Gambia at the 34th Universal Periodic Review (UPR),
categorically addressing the progress made so far by the country. It also noted
the expectation of a future democratic and stable nation. However, serious and
staid concerns are also raised.
In its UPR statement, forwarded to The Point, the U.K. government commended The Gambia on the ‘‘progress made to address the past violations through the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), and the drafting of a new Constitution.’’
Furthermore, Britain noted that it welcomes ‘‘The Gambia’s engagement with the UPR’’ and stressed that this was a pivotal time in the country.
The British government that has always been instrumental in the battle to support the country in its political and economic challenges through various fronts also hopes for a stable and thriving nation.
According the statement, the U.K. expects that following the progress made to address past violations through the TRRC and the drafting of a new a constitution will “embed human rights in the future of a democratic and stable Gambia.’’
Despite the progress made, Britain also expressed concern that ‘‘violence against women remains a serious problem in the country.’’
It also outlined that laws that continue to repress freedom of the press and journalists are also a concern.
The British government also noted that ‘‘women and minority groups continue to face discrimination.’’
Most significantly, the statement further revealed that corruption is also seriously a concern, causing many human rights issues and undermining democracy.
The U.K. thus urged The Gambia government to respect the rights to peaceful assembly and association and further outlined few recommendations.
Even though the British government strongly reaffirmed its support to the government and people of The Gambia, it humbly and respectfully recommended ‘‘protecting the right to freedom of expression by repealing the Sedition Act and Official Secret Act.”
Also, the U.K. recommended to ‘‘set out publicly, steps the government will take to ensure women’s full participation and leadership in public life.’’
Effective implementation of anti-trafficking legislation is also recommended by the British government. It includes the timely and just prosecution of perpetrators of human trafficking.
It is true that despite the commendations and concerns, several unresolved grievances are reported elsewhere.
This correspondent who recently wrote an open-letter to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice as well as the Director General of the SIS, decrying the inhuman and degrading treatment against him by the defunct National Intelligent Agency (NIA) officers also hears similar worries.
The official complaints made that perpetrators who unlawfully incarcerated and brutally tortured him severally while working as a journalist in the country and are still operating freely are also described as ‘apprehensive.’
However, The Point has learnt that “diplomatic and other channels will be used to convey and raise such concerns to the government for urgent consideration as would be necessary.’’