Amnesty international has made 17 point recommendations to United Nations members expressing concern about The Gambia’s flagrant violation of human rights. The rights group wants the country to either comply with the special rapporteur’s demands or bear the brunt for terrorising ordinary citizens.
AI felt the need to pile pressure on UN members to act fast on The Gambia for violating the special rapporteur’s mission.
At its 28th regular session, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) will consider the report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment on his visit to The Gambia. The visit was jointly undertaken by the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions from 3 to 7 November 2014.
Amnesty International commends the Special Rapporteur’s efforts in positively engaging the Gambian authorities and larger civil society. The organisation deplores the government’s decision to deny the Rapporteurs access to the Security Mile 2 Central Prisons, where death-row prisoners and others sentenced to long prison terms are held.
That decision demonstrated again the government’s blatant disregard for cooperation in the field of human rights. The Special Rapporteurs noted in their Preliminary Findings that this restriction was imposed despite the government’s written agreement to the Terms of Reference of the two mandates.
Amnesty International is concerned that the government’s unwillingness to cooperate with international monitors is a striking contradiction with The Gambia government’s own commitment made during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Gambia to “continue in its endeavour to promote and protect human rights in the country”.
Amnesty International urges the HRC, its members and observer states to do the following:
Condemn the Gambian government’s blatant failure to respect the Special Rapporteurs’ Terms of Reference, thereby undermining their investigation;
To establish an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the December 2014 attempted coup and related human rights violations, including investigations into arrests and other forms of repression.
Call on Gambia to:
Constructively engage with the Special Rapporteurs and act on their recommendations without delay;
Desist from reprisals and intimidation against persons cooperating with the UN in the field of human rights;
Improve the conditions of detention in all places of detention and ensure that prisoners and detainees have access to medical care, adequate and appropriate food, hygiene and exercise;
Investigate all allegations of torture or other ill-treatment and hold to account the individuals responsible;
Ensure that information obtained under torture is not allowed in any proceedings;
Establish an independent mechanism that promptly and effectively investigates all allegations of torture or ill-treatment;
Establish a permanent moratorium on executions, with a view to abolition, commute all death sentences, and ensure that prisoners on death row enjoy fully their right to seek clemency;
Ensure that all prisoners on death row have access to their lawyers and families;
Immediately end the policy of continued harassment, intimidation, arbitrary arrest and torture of people due to their perceived sexual orientation and of human rights defenders, journalists, political activists, and their families;
Repeal legislation that restricts freedom of expression inconsistently with human rights standards, i.e. the Criminal Code (2014) amendment, the Information and Communication (amendment) Act 2013 and the Criminal Code (amendment) Act 2013;
Comply and implement expediently the judgements of the ECOWAS Court of Justice; and
Ratify human rights treaties, including the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and its Optional Protocol, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance
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Gambia must take immediate steps to address concerns of UN Special Rapporteurs on torture and extra-judicial executions: Amnesty International’s written statement to the 28th session of the UN Human Rights Council (2-27 March 2015)