The study was conducted with the purpose of understanding the magnitude of caste-based and descent-based discrimination in The Gambia, the factors driving the discrimination, communities, and tribes amongst which they occur, the challenges faced by persons and groups who endure such discrimination.
The study also seeks to identify interventions and strategies the State and other stakeholders can take to end this practice in The Gambia, and is in line with the mandate of the NHRC to promote and protect human rights. This lays an opportunity for the Commission to forge ahead towards attaining its Vision: “A Gambia where everyone enjoys their fundamental human rights and freedoms.”
The chairman of NHRC, Emmanuel D. Joof, said they undertook a fact-finding mission and field visits to communities such as Garawol, Bajakunda, Koina and Djabugu and Djabungun Nding in the Upper River Region from 2018 to 2020, where conflicts and disputes based on caste and decent have occurred severally, to asses and examine the issues of caste and descent-based discrimination.
This, he added, led to the issuing of a press statement after reports of serious discrimination based on caste lines.
The President of the Supreme Islamic Council was also ably represented by Demba Jarro. Mr Jarro contended that caste system in The Gambia is a social issue with no religious evidence due to lack of education or faith, adding that it is unacceptable in Islam.
He blasted the separation of graveyards, praying grounds and refusal of intermarriages between certain tribes, saying that these contradict Islamic teachings and principles.
However, he told attendees this social issue has been reducing over the years due to continuous preaching, Islamic teaching and sensitisation by the Supreme Islamic Council in collaboration with other government and non-governmental partners.
The British High Commissioner to The Gambia, David Belgrove, praised the NHRC for the instrumental initiative. However, he said, he had never been aware of the existence of caste system in the Gambia.