Today, the10th of December 2021, like every other year, The Gambia joins the rest of the world to commemorate and celebrate International Human Rights Day. It is a day set aside in honour of the United Nations General Assembly adoption and proclamation, on 10 December 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first global enunciation of human rights and one of the first major achievements of the new United Nations.
As an organization whose interests are built on the pillars of human rights and its promotion, Rise of The Young – Gambia joins the rest of the world in observance of the day and calls on the international community to protect rights of those facing human rights abuses all around the world. This year’s theme, “Equality” is important because it can help towards the attainment of reducing inequalities among people of the human family in the political, social, economic and cultural space that will be in line with advancing the course of human rights.
This day should be an opportunity to reflect on the past so as to promote and protect human rights in The Gambia. It is important on this day to remind one another to ensure public awareness through educational programs to promote a culture of human rights in The Gambia — create an opportunity to educate students, youth and women, to explore ways to address violations and prevent recurrences.
Structural discrimination and inequality are perpetual causes of poverty which cannot be combated without good political will and participation of all persons. The equal and equitable distribution of state resources must be done fairly in the Gambia and across the world. Young people are not the leaders of tomorrow. The are the leaders of today because the future starts now. Decent jobs and better pay should be prioritised by the Gambia Government to ensure that the poverty faced by young people are addressed.
Violent conflicts have reminded us on the need to build more resilient communities to avert reoccurrence. The protection and adherence to the values and core tenets of human rights will address the immediate causes of deep-rooted conflicts. Following the December 4th Presidential Election, tribal rhetoric and call for violence took shape. The way to December 4th was long and all efforts must be put in place to ensure that we continue to live in harmony and the peace we are known for.
At this juncture, we wish to remind us all the importance of this day and honouring it, our responsibilities as individuals as we claim to enjoy our rights, and the need to coherently engage in practising them.
Similarly, we wish to bring to the attention of the government that, the security sector reform should be accomplished by now to set a new path for a new Gambia where the rights and dignity of all persons will be protected by the state. We believe that, the TRRC recommendations should be implemented but that cannot be done without the government setting up a comprehensive plan on how they wish to implement the recommendations. The victims should be compensated and those found wanting for gross human rights violations are brought to justice. It is important to show to the citizens that after series of public hearings, the victims deserve a fair justice for the damages caused by the past regime. This is what equality means. All persons must be equal before the law.
Moving further, we welcomed the President’s promise of a new constitution. In 2020, the Draft Constitution was put to coma and it is high time to give it life once again. However, the government must not change provisions that serve public interest for any other thing. This new constitution will not only give birth into a new Republic but set the path on how the government moves on and deals with its citizens, giving more voices to the citizens and observes fundamental values of human rights.
In the areas of policing, we advice that the Gambia Police Force in exercise of duty uses reasonable force on citizens. The use of coercion must not be tolerated. Gambians have fought for a new path and led to the creation of this new democracy. That purpose must never be defeated. We will like to commend the efforts by the National Human Rights Commission for their continuous actions reminding the government on the protection and preservation of human rights. The NHRC will play crucial roles in building up a more democratic and equal society that respects the fundamental rights of all citizens.
This year’s theme made us realized that, equality cannot be attained without making healthy environment a human right to achieve climate justice. All forms of environmental degradation and abuse should be addressed by the government by initiating laws that protect communities from becoming victims of these harmful practices. The frequent review of licenses of companies operating in the environment sector will be ensured. This will ensure that, the rule of law is upheld by all persons. Development cannot be sustainable by compromising or damaging the environment.
We remain firm that the Gambia Government should continue to be guided by the dictates of the Constitution and international instruments that protect the rights of all citizens.
The interdependence of human rights taught us that, the enjoyment and fulfilment of one right is equivalent to the enjoyment and fulfilment of all the other rights. This is the simple message we want the government to understand and act upon.