As The Gambia goes through its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN Human Rights Council, ARTICLE 19 calls for concerted regional and international efforts to stop the violent repression against free voices and end impunity.
“ARTICLE 19 is deeply concerned about the lack of public space for citizens and the media in The Gambia. Opportunities for freedom of expression, including through the internet, are shrinking by the day. Repression and fear have reached an alarming level, inhibiting Gambians from having a say in the country’s public affairs,” says Fatou Jagne Senghor, Regional Director of ARTICLE 19 West Africa.
The Gambian government rejected most of the recommendations relating to freedom of expression during the last UPR in 2010. And although it committed to end impunity for human rights violations against journalists, human rights defenders, and political opponents, it has failed to fulfill this commitment. Resolutions and reports from the African Commission on Human Rights, the African Union human rights body based in The Gambia, and major ECOWAS court rulings on crimes against journalists have yet to be given any consideration.
Since the last UPR, a series of restrictive laws inhibiting free expression of citizens, journalists and human rights defenders have been adopted to tighten the already repressive legal arsenal.
Besides the laws, persecutions of journalists, political opponents, human rights defenders and citizens have continued with total impunity. More than a dozen journalists and human rights defenders were forced to leave the country in the last four years, adding to the alarming number of people forced into exile in the last two decades due to the systematic persecution of dissident views and injustices.
“The UPR offers a unique opportunity for countries to face a reality check of their Human rights situation through a peer review. The Gambia should seize this opportunity to change its course and respect its international human rights commitments,” Fatou Jagne Senghor added.
Note to editors
For further information and interviews, please contact Fatou Jagne Senghor, Regional Director ARTICLE 19 West Africa [email protected] or Khady Diallo, Programme Officer [email protected] or 221 338 690 322
Previous work on The Gambia could be found in our website: www.article19.org