Emmanuel Daniel Joof, Chairman, Gambia National Human Rights Commission

The National Human Rights Commission of The Gambia (NHRC) has strongly condemned the discrimination of so-called slaves by so-called nobles in various parts of The Gambia. In its press release issued on Tuesday 18th June 2019, the NHRC described such discrimination as unlawful.

“The NHRC not only condemns any and all forms of discrimination against anyone within the soil of the Gambia but also wants to make it categorically clear that it is illegal and unlawful under the laws of the Gambia and all the international treaties and conventions that the Gambia has ratified for anyone to discriminate against anybody based on tribe, ethnicity, race, gender, religion and or social status,” the release asserts.

The release calls on all influential personalities to desist from such practice.

“The NHRC is therefore calling on all community leaders, religious leaders, opinion leaders, elders, civil and public servants and the citizenry to be very wary and to desist from making discriminatory statements and or engaging in discriminatory practices.”

The NHRC does not intend to condone discrimination our communities, warning that those responsible for fanning the seeds of hatred and division will be brought to book. It advises the police to be very vigilant, take an active role in the fight against all forms of discrimination and treat seriously all cases of discrimination reported to them with professionalism and impartiality.

The NHRC also recognises that it has a promotional mandate. Accordingly, “The NHRC, in collaboration with stakeholders, will engage the affected communities and will also roll out a series of activities geared towards sensitizing the general public on human rights, promoting a culture of human rights in The Gambia and assisting the Government in the formulation of appropriate policies to guarantee human rights.”

The NHRC release has been issued in the wake of a series of strife and scuffles particularly in the Upper River Region.

The NHRC also strongly condemned statements reportedly made by Presidential Adviser Mr Henry Gomez during a “political” rally in Brikama on Saturday 16 June in which it is reported that he said that would be demonstrators risk being shot at if they conduct protest marches demanding that President Barrow steps down after 3 years and citing as warning April 10 and 11 of 2000 in which 14 Gambians were shot following demonstration by school children as reference to what can happen again.

The release thus asserted: “The NHRC would like to reiterate the fact that people have a right to freedom of expression, assembly and to demonstrate peacefully. These are fundamental rights guaranteed in our constitution and under regional and international treaties and conventions that we have ratified. The fact that people are demonstrating or wish to do so does not mean that they are riotous or that they are criminals. To threaten would be demonstrators with bullets is unbecoming of a Presidential Adviser and should be condemned in the strongest terms. Such language is not one which is or should be permitted in a democratic society.”

“The NHRC urges all and every Gambian including politicians, security personnel the youths and everyone to be law abiding and follow due process in their actions. Never again will Gambians allow oppression and / or fear to take hold in our society,” the statement concluded.

The National Human Rights Commission, established by an Act of the National Assembly in 2017, is an independent and permanent institution which is mandated to promote, monitor, investigate and protect human rights, as well as create a culture of human rights in The Gambia. Its other functions include recommending appropriate remedial action to the Government regarding a human rights violation, seeking appropriate redress on behalf of victims, and assisting the Government in the formulation of appropriate policies and laws to guarantee human rights. The 5 members of the Commission were sworn into office on the 14th February 2019.

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