In its national situational report to the ECOWAS Parliament 2023 First Ordinary Session, The Gambia’s Delegation has told the Community Parliament that The Gambia’s Human Rights situation has dramatically improved.
The Gambia’s report to the Ecowas Parliament covers a range of issues, including the country’s political, economic, security, and human rights situation, legal reforms and ratifications, and implementation of protocols, among others.
The Gambia’s Delegation comprised: Honourable Billay G Tunkara, Hon Alhagie S Darboe, Hon Kebba K Barrow, Hon Samba Jallow, and Hon Fatoumata Njai.
Hon. Alhagie S. Darboe, Minority Leader and a delegation member presented the report on behalf of the Gambian team, highlighting the current state of affairs of The Gambia.
According to the Report: “In its 2022 report of the human rights situation of the country, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has pointed to a zero-incident of arbitrary deprivation of life and other unlawful or politically motivated killings and disappearances as was rampant under President Barrow’s predecessor.”
Notwithstanding this achievement, the report highlighted human rights issues, such as harsh and life-threatening prison conditions caused by food shortages, overcrowding in some prison facilities, physical abuse, lack of adequate medical care, and poor sanitary conditions.
According to the Delegation, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights and Constitutional Matters has already started engaging the government and relevant stakeholders on some of these claims made in the report of the National Human Rights Commission, and this process is ongoing.
On political rights and civil liberties, the report stated that the government of President Adama Barrow continues to maintain and recognize The Gambia as a secular society in which adherents of all faiths worship freely without any interference. “The government also continues to build on our gains as a multi-party democracy to give all individuals and parties the platform to exercise their rights and freedoms as the law provides.”
“To this day, it is worth stating that there is no political prisoner in The Gambia. There is complete separation of powers, with each arm of the state operating independently but harmoniously with each other for the collective common good,” the report added.
According to the Delegation’s report, an Interparty Committee is composed of all Political Parties. ‘Its role is to determine the conduct of politicians during campaigns as well as mediate dialogue between political parties when there is a problem.’
On the security situation, the report informs the Ecowas Parliamentarians that the Government of The Gambia has promoted the safe and dignified resettling of displaced persons following tensions on The Gambia-Senegal border, during which an estimated 6,000 Senegalese and Gambian citizens that reside in villages along the border of the two countries were forced to flee their homes and took refuge in other parts of The Gambia due to intensified fighting between the Senegalese army and MFDC rebels in the Casamance region of Senegal, in an area less than two miles from the border.
The report said the reform is ongoing on the Security Sector Reform (SSR) initiative.
“Regarding Human Rights Situation, in March 2023, the National Assembly passed two acts fundamental to promoting human rights and upholding the rule of law in the country. The first is the Prevention of Torture Act 2023, which provides the legal framework for the prohibition, prevention, and punishment of any form of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment in The Gambia and provides penalties aimed at ensuring accountability for acts of torture. The second is the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act of 2023 which is equally a significant milestone in the transitional justice process of The Gambia, particularly with regards to accountability for human rights violations committed during the Jammeh regime.”
On Press Freedom, this year, The Gambia is ranked 5th in Africa and 46th in the world among 180 member countries by the international watchdog, Reporters Without Borders, where press freedom is highly valued.
On the TRRC outcomes, the government is currently working and collaborating with partners to draft legislation for the establishment of reparation or victim’s fund and a peace commission, which will be a successor body to the Reparations Committee of the TRRC, independent and vested with the power to manage and make payments out of the reparations fund.
On health, the National Assembly Select Committee on Health has concluded investigations into the Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) outbreak and tabled its findings before the National Assembly in December 2022. “The report of the Health Committee noted that an Indian medical company, Maiden Pharmaceuticals Ltd., is culpable and should be held accountable for exporting the contaminated medicines that were linked to the death of at least 70 children in The Gambia in 2022.”
In February 2023, the Central Bank reported that the Gambian economy has exhibited resilience with signs of a more robust recovery in 2023, with a growth rate forecast at 6.0 percent. “Staff forecast real GDP growth of 6.0 percent in 2023. is expected to grow by 4.5 percent in 2022 and 6.0 percent in 2023. However, the repercussions of the war in Ukraine threaten economic and social stability.”