International/Diplomatic: CORDEG was represented at the Brussels EU/AFRICA summit planned protest Match in April 2014.Although the protest as originally conceived did not take place, because of the failure of the Gambian delegation to show up at the Event..The combined presence of CORDEG, some of its affiliate associations and those of similar organisations from other European countries sent a chilled message to the Jammeh regime. And they backed off at the last minute.
Documentary representation was addressed to the EU to consider further, the imposing of targeted sanctions on the Gambia regime. We requested following specifically:
· Freezing assets of named Gambian officials including President Jammeh
· Travel ban on named Officials including Jammeh
· Withdrawal of Development Funding if no progress is made on The 17 conditionalities
· Isolating the Gambia Government from international events as a result of Human Rights violations.
CORDEG has not relented on above demands, and a more rigorous diplomatic approach remains in the works to achieve above.
Development Funding has been largely held back as progress on the Conditionalities have been stalling at best, and at worse being fragrantly ignored.
Scandinavian Youth organisation….CORDEG was represented at two gatherings in Stockholm in April and June 2014,where we submitted papers, and encouraged the young to continue to take interest in Gambian matters.
At both gatherings reps arrived from The UK, Holland, Norway and France, and topics discussed included Human Rights Violations, The way forward to Democracy and Good Governance and the role of Youth in Gambia’s transformation.
The UN Special Rapporteurs on torture and summary, extrajudicial and arbitrary Executions planned visit to Gambia in the summer/Autumn involved CORDEG too. As an organisation, we liaised with other Gambian groupings and prepared a dossier on Poor Governance, lack of Democratic practice and violation of Human Rights in Gambia. That compilation was handed to the Rapporteurs liaison officers in Dakar (Senegal) with whom the office of Secretary General and vice chair had close contacts.CORDEG also provided names of willing Gambian Victims of the Regime both at home and abroad for contact, and interviews.
As is already known, The Gambia Government reneged on a mandatory promise to engage the rapporteurs, allowing them only recently on a selected number of areas of interest to inspect, while refusing them access to key areas of concern such as The Prisons and detention centres.
Recent moral rantings by the Jammeh Government on the sorry state of those who are non-heterosexual, and those who discard their new born babies contain threats of long term imprisonment and Executions, are designed to reinforce fear and to distract attention from Economic mismanagement and poor Governance.
The ramifications for such an act of blatant lack of co-operation will unfold in the coming months, following the meeting in Geneva in October 2014,where The Gambian delegation were put to task on their poor record by a number of countries including The USA,Britain,Sweden,Canada and Australia as well as the likes of Botswana.
CORDEG in association with other like-minded organisations are working out a strategy and campaign methodology to advance our twin aims of having sanctions imposed and isolating and weakening the Jammeh regime. Progress on this will be reported.
CORDEG has concluded a series of strategy and campaign meetings to occupy the centre stage on approaching and working with Human Rights Organisations in the Africa sub-region, in the international and along corridors of power and influence involving ECOWAS,The AU, Trade Unions, Trading blocks and Legal institues.Our Legal department in conjunction with the Vice chair and Sect General are heading this onslaught in a co-ordinated comprehensive manner, and will report back on outcomes as these filter through.
We are happy to report that following our involvement with appropriate authorities in Malta, our fellow Gambians numbering over 80 youngsters have been released from detention and rehoused, while awaiting outcome of their Asylum claim. Our Legal team continues to relentlessly pursue this matter with a view to secure the safety and welfare of our fellow country folk driven from home by Fear of persecution, unemployment and lack of hope.
The Chairperson of CORDEG leads the dialogue with Political parties on the ground. Initial round of contacts suggests a serious desire on the part of the Political parties to engage on the vexed question of ELECTORAL REFORM…without which we cannot have a free and fair election come 2016.Political parties are keen on working with CORDEG on strategy, funding and campaigning to achieve this. All levels of concerted action including use of appropriate courts, and other legal means will be pursued relentlessly and with vigour. The joint determination on the part of the Political, parties and CORDEG to pursue this without delay is encouraging.CORDEG will reach out to all interested parties to carry out this exercise.
Other matters will be discussed with political parties. These include 2016 Slated General Elections (Fundraising, Election/campaign messaging etc.)
Asylum seekers: There is an upsurge of Gambian asylum seekers as well as Economic migrants braving the Sahara desert, unreliable boat trips across the Mediterranean Sea and other routes to Europe. There have been recorded fatalities, kidnappings, robberies and the stranded crying out for help.
It’s difficult sometimes to distinguish between a genuine asylum seeker from the Economic migrant. While one is escaping persecution for political reasons, the other one is essentially a job seeker escaping from poverty and lack of hope. International law treats the two separately.
Hopes have been raised that CORDEG might be able assist. Our legal unit has been in touch with Organisations in MALTA to assist 88 Gambians (most of who are in detention) and are failed Asylum seekers. Head of Legal unit is pursuing this matter and a visit to the Island state to progress matters is in prospect. Other centres for Gambian asylees include Dakar (3200 on record), Italy (over 5000) Libya (several hundred) etc. The Legal unit is working on progressing asylum applications in these countries and thru third parties to secure the rights and welfare needs of these Gambians.
We are happy to report that following our involvement with appropriate authorities in Malta, our fellow Gambians numbering over 80 youngsters have been released from detention and rehoused, while awaiting outcome of their Asylum claim. Our Legal team continues to relentlessly pursue this matter with a view to secure the safety and welfare of our fellow country folk driven from home by Fear of persecution, unemployment and lack of hope
CORDEG UK in association with Sene-Gambia Human Rights Defence League held a symposium in London on 29 November, addressed by OJ Jallow on the state of play in Gambia, and the way forward by political parties.Mr.OJ Jallow gave a grim picture of the Economy characterised by unaffordable food prices, unemployment and draconian laws to stifle opposition .He reports on the various promises by the Government such as Rice self- sufficiency in two years being unachievable.
OJ calls on political parties at home to unite and work with the diaspora and corridors of power and influence, to bring maximum pressure to bear on the Government for much needed change Gambians yearn for.
We thank Freedom news media, other news outlets and Gambians at home and in the diaspora for their continued support.
Professor Abdoulaye Saine