The celebration began with a march past by school children and teachers from Basse market to the Regional Agriculture Hall in Mansajang where a symposium was held.
Nfamara Jawneh, executive director of Beakanyang stated that the day was set aside to commemorate adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly.
International commemorative days such as IHRD serve as catalyst to educate the public on issues of concern, mobilise political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity.
According to him, IHRD is celebrated to recognise and remind the world of the inalienable rights that everyone is inherently entitled to regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
“Due to the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic this year, the theme for IHRD 2020 relates to the pandemic and focuses on the need to recover better by ensuring human rights are placed at the center of recovery efforts,” he said.
The celebration, he added, was aimed at raising public awareness on the need for government to respect, protect and fulfill human rights while also reminding government of the need to fulfill its obligations to protect human rights.
Mr Jawneh further thanked the Transitional Justice and Human Rights Project through UNDP, OHCHR and UN Peacebuilding Fund for supporting the successful commemoration of the day.
He also hailed the Youth for Human Rights International and the National Human Rights Commission for their continued support and partnership. “The events aim to add to national discussion on how to promote human rights and inspire students to become human rights advocates in their communities,” said Jawneh.
Jawneh recalled that many people in The Gambia had undergone gross human rights violations and abuses in the form of killings, torture, forced disappearances, imprisonment without trial under the former regime.
“This unfortunate reality has created a reproachable hallmark and damages in the human rights records and history of our dear country which we all have a huge responsibility to work to redress going forward,” he challenged.
He went on to call on government to redouble her efforts in making sure that justice is served for victims and make sure that such violations do not re-occur.
“We are all aware that the world is currently grappling with the coronavirus pandemic which has heavily weighed down on our lives and livelihoods. The pandemic has posed insurmountable challenges and disruptions in our efforts put in place to address human rights issues around the world. We therefore need to cooperate in working to institutionalise sustainable, inclusive and progressive strategies to promote human rights both during and post-covid-19 pandemic. In respect to this and the theme for this year’s IHRD celebration, it is imperative to put into consideration the centrality of everyone’s participation, particularly rural communities in activities marking this year’s celebration; as well as their inclusion in the process of recovering and building back a resilient and more inclusive society,” he said.
Babucarr Njie, representing the National Human Rights Commission highlighted the mandate of NHRC and how people can access its services.
For his part, Mr. Essa Conteh, deputy governor of URR applauded Beakanyang for celebrating the IHRD in the region.
He called on all Gambians to embrace the values of human rights while calling for more awareness creation and education about rights.
Deputising for the regional education director, Mr Janko Jawneh, Principal Education Officer for Region 6, said there couldn’t be any meaningful and sustainable peace and development in any country in the absence of respect for human rights.
On his part, Baboucarr Sidibeh, regional youth chairperson of URR called for justice for victims of human rights violations in the country.
Other speakers included the board chairperson of Beakanyang, Mr Yahya Sumareh and Mrs Mariama Trawalleh, female rep at Basse Area Council.
The celebration was marked with a march past from Basse Market to the Regional Agriculture Office in Mansajang, where presentations on human rights as well as dramas on human rights was held.
Students from about 10 schools in the region, security personnel, teachers, youth leaders and other CSO representatives graced the event.