The United Kingdom government has promised to ensure that the Gambia remains prominent on the European Union’s agenda. This assurance — made to the Campaigan for Rights in The Gambia UK(CHRG) — came after the EU Parliament issued a joint statement condemning the Gambia government’s excessive use of force against the peaceful opposition protesters.
“The UK’s position on this issue is firm: human rights are universal and must apply equally to all people,” the UK Minister for Africa James Duddridge said. “UK will therefore, continue to urge the Gambian government to fully guarantee the fundamental rights of all Gambian people”.
Responding to concerns of Rt Hon Tom Brake MP, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson and former deputy leader of the House of Commons at the request of CHRG-UK on what the UK government is doing to put pressure on the Gambia government to release peaceful protestors, Minister Duddridge said his government has raised the issue through the ongoing EU-Gambia Article 8 Political Dialogue on human rights on April 26, 2016.
“We will continue to press the Gambian government on this. We have raised our concerns on a number of occasions with senior members of the Gambian government. I share your concerns about Gambia
s poor human rights record.As the only EU member state to have a resident ambassador in Gambia, the UK plays a leading role in campaigning for human rights in The Gambia and in ensuring that the issue remains prominent on the EUs agenda”.
Mr Duddridge said following the Gambia government’s crackdown on peaceful protestors, the UK Ambassador to the Gambia immediately raised UK’s concerns with Gambian Foreign Minister.
“On the multilateral front the UK has voiced its concerns at the United Nations when the Gambia’shuman rights records was evaluated as part of the Universal Periodic Review. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office also focus on Gambia`s record in its 2015 Annual Human Rights and Democracy Report.”
Minister Duddridge also pointed out that the UK support a number of projects in the Gambia to tpromote democracy and human rights. “These projects range from supporting the training of women, paralegals and law enforcement agencies on human rights. At a local level, we have also supported projects in human rights based approach to citizen participation in local government.”
Rt Hon Brake was delighted about the progress being made on the Gambia. “I am pleased to hear that Mr Duddridge tells me that the ambassador in Gambia immediately raised our concerns with Gambian Foreign Minister. I am also pleased to also hear that the UK is supporting human rights projects within the Gambia,” Hon Brake said.