The embattled Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has swallowed his pride and allowed United Nations officials access to the Gambia’s Mile 2 Central Prisons located in the outskirts of the capital Banjul.
In November2014, the Gambia denied the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, and the Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan Méndez, access to detention centres where prisoners are believed to be at high risk of torture. The blocked visit happened few weeks after the West African naion was heavily criticised for its appalling human rights record during its Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations. Right activists thought the denial was done to hide dirty linen.
The puzzle that remains unsolved is why President Jammeh is allowing the UN Inspectors access to Mile 2 this time. Gambians will have to struggle with speculation until we get to the bottom of the story.
“UN prison inspectors this morning visited Mile 2 Central Prisons early this morning,” said a prison source who begged for cover. The source would not go into details of where exactly the inspectors visited.
The visit coincides with the incarceration of opposition United Democratic Party leadership and others for protesting against the government’s excessive use of force. They also demanded for electoral reforms before the December 2016 presidential elections.