The Gambia government has been asked to improve on its decaying human rights situation.
This newest call, which followed similar numerous calls, was part of the recommendations by Gambia Human Rights Network (GHRN). The network submitted the report to the United Nations Working Group for Universal Periodic Review of the Gambia.
The group wants the Jammeh regime to address the many obstacles to freedom of expression.
In that the Gambia should do a comprehensive reform and repeal of all draconian laws, including the criminal defamation, false and sedition provisions. The Gambia is also urged to grant access to the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and cooperate with international and regional human rights bodies to guarantee the protection of freedom of expression and human rights generally in the Gambia.
Also of concern to the network is the Gambia’s culture of arbitrary arrest and detention without trial. It therefore calls for cessation of arbitrary arrest, detention and intimidation of all, particularly journalists and human rights defenders. It should ensure that “all human rights violations committed by the police, the Army and the National Intelligence Agency are investigated and that those responsible are brought to justice.”
The Gambia government is further urged to conduct “independent and effective investigations into all cases of ill-treatment, torture, and extrajudicial execution. Comply with the Gambia’s obligations under the African Charter, the UN Convention Against Torture, and the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, in particular through the criminalization of these offenses in their national legislation in accordance with international standards. It is recommended that victims of torture be given the right to remedy and that a conducive environment be guaranteed for human rights defenders in the country to carry out their legitimate activities without fear of reprisals.
The Jammeh government is also asked to follow constitutional guidelines in the hiring and firing of judges and permit lawyers, public officials to perform their professional duties without interference or harassment and guarantee tenure of judges.
Other areas needing improvement are the prison conditions. As such, the government should allow independent organizations access to all detention centers, reform the Prison Act to ensure that prisoners have adequate visitation rights, address overcrowding through all political prisoners and ensure that prisoners have access to proper medical treatment.
Recommendations call for a permanent moratorium on the death penalty and ensure that death row inmates exhaust all legal options before any decision is made on execution. The government is also urged to release the bodies of the nine death row inmates executed in August 2012 to their relatives.
Other recommendations have to do with enforcement of the Domestic Violence and the Child Labour acts and pass laws banning the female genital mutilation.