The Gambia’s Public Protector has reiterated her commitment to protect human rights in a country that is now moving towards a new direction. The end of 22-year Jammeh dictatorship has opened a new era for Gambians who have long cried to regain democracy and freedom.
“The Ombudsman enhances the lofty goals of good governance through access to justice, promotion of the rule of law and protection of human rights,” Fatou Njie-Jallow told security officers in her opening remarks at a one-day workshop held at Senegambia Beach Hotel.
The workshop drew participants from Gambia Armed Forces, the Police, State Intelligence Service, National Drug and Law Enforcement Agency and Gambia Revenue Authority.
Established by an Act of Parliament in 1997, the Office of the Ombudsman is empowered to ‘”investigate complaints of injustice, corruption, abuse of power, maladministration and unfair treatment of any person by a public officer in the exercise of his or her official duties.”
Mrs Njie-Jallow said the Ombudsman serves as a public protector, complaints commission, human rights protector and mediator. “The Ombudsman also serves as a broker not only to articulate the rights of the ordinary citizen but also to act as a check on the adminstrative arms of government,” she added.
As the institution continues to gain momentum, the Ombudsman disclosed that her office receives hundreds of complaints every year. After holding any inquiry or investigation, the Ombudsman recommends appropriate action or steps for the remedying, correction or reversal of matters through means that are fair.
She then reaffirmed the importance placed by the Office of the Ombudsman on the importance of the protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms of all Gambians, particularly those in prisons and
She said her office wrote to the Minister of Interior requesting to have unrestricted access to prisons, police cells and all places of detention. The request was subsequently given a favourable consideration by Interior Minister Mai Ahmad Fatty, allowing them to pursue a mission they have been struggling to achieve during these past years.
In an attempt to shed light on the objectives of the visits on detention centres, she said it will help to conduct inspections and investigations which make prisons and all detention centres more transparent and to draw attention to problems and conditions vulnerable inmates are confronted with.
“The Ombudsman will ensure that detainees are kept in a conducive environment and to report to government its findings and make
appropriate recommendations in line with the optional protocol on the convention against Torture and all degrading Acts,” she assured.