ARTICLE 19 has called for concerted regional and international efforts to stop the violent repression against free voices and end impunity in the Gambia. This call comes at a time the West African nation is facing bashing at the Universal Periodic Review in Geneva, Switzerland.
“ARTICLE 19 is deeply concerned about the lack of public space for citizens and the media in the Gambia,” the Regional Director of ARTICLE 19 said in a statement. “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,” Fatou Senghor said.
ARTICLE 19 official could not understand why the Gambia government rejected most of the recommendations relating to freedom of expression during the last UPR in 2010. The Gambia has woefully refused to comply with a commitment to end impunity for human rights violations against journalists, human rights defenders, and political opponents. Besides, the Gambia is yet to give consideration to resolution and reports from the African Commission on Human Rights and major ECOWAS court rulings on crimes against journalists.
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.