Human Rights Advancement, Development, and Advocacy Center (HIRIDAC) and Network of Human Rights Journalists (NHRJ), the Gambia has launched its much-awaited Gambia’s December, 4th, 2021, Presidential election report.
The launch that was held virtually drew together more than forty (40) participants including journalists and activists highlighting key issues that characterized the last Presidential election relative to human rights violations.
The joint report is said to be anchored on the situational and contextual analysis of the past election while taking into account 2021, Gambia electoral context as well as its historical, sociological, political backgrounds to present a holistic perspective.
“To develop a human rights perspective, the report creates a critical link between elections and the rights to vote, the role of the media among other relevant themes,” the report disclosed.
Ayodele Ameen, Executive Director, HURIDAC disclosed that the significant link between human rights and election cannot be ignored, adding that the important rights of the Gambian to vote in sustaining democracy needs critical evaluation which the report archived.
According to him, the report also explores the role of political stakeholders and its impact on the outcome of the presidential election, adding that the report did not fail to take into account the level playing field available for political participation since the ending of dictatorship in 2017.
“The report further documented the freeness and fairness of the election in the pre, during, and after the election’s phases with an attempt to document human rights violations and abuses in each phase. Apart from the post-election period, no record of human rights violations and abuses were reported or documented during the day of the election, but cases of violations of freedom of expression relating to journalists were recorded in the post election phase,” Ayodele Ameen disclosed.
Musa Sheriff, Coordinator, Network of Human Rights Journalists (NHRJ), in the Gambia said the joint report deepened the understanding of the Gambia’s political history, party idiosyncrasies as well as the roles of other stakeholders including the journalists in the political landscape of the country.
The Coordinator NHRJ continued to disclose that the objectives of the report include working with states to improve the electoral landscape in the Gambia that protects and promotes the human rights of the people, adducing that the report includes specific recommendations for various stakeholders, including investigating the alleged claims of the opposition party to prevent any future occurrence.
Barrister Yankuba Darbo, representing United Democratic Party (UDP) commended both HURIDAC and NHRJ for their untiring work, adding that UDP still maintains that the past Presidential election was neither free nor fair.
He said 2021, the Presidential election was marked by a series of irregularities including clandestine registration of foreigners and minors, arguing that the Supreme Court which was highly expected to preside over UDP’s case declined to hear the case and subsequently throw it out based on no just reasons than technicalities.
Yaya Dampha, who spoke on behalf of the National People’s Party (NPP) defies the claims made by Barrister Darbo, defending that the opposition particularly the UDP has no course to complain about the mass registration of foreigners and minors, arguing that revising courts where set-up to deal with any electoral malpractices but no case was filed.
According to him, Gambia’s last Presidential election was free, fair without any reported electoral violence, adducing that the peaceful manner in which elections are conducted in the country is a benchmark set for other countries to emulate.
The launching of the joint report was presided over by a virtual press conference that attracted many journalists both from the print and electronic media who were accorded the opportunity to ask relevant questions to the organizers.