By Abdoulie John
Gambia’s Adama Barrow Thursday implored the newly formed National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to ensure that all complaints are dealt with in fairness, objective and equitable manner as he sworn into office the five-member panel.
The Gambian leader made this remark during the swearing-in ceremony of members of the much-awaited NHRC and which was held at State House, Banjul.
The tiny West African nation has entered into an important stage of its political transition.The establishment of a national human rights body comes at a time when the institutional reform is in full gear.
President Adama Barrow went further to invite commissioners to make sure all complainants are considered, regardless of their identity, ethnic or political background.
“Accordingly, I encourage you to prioritize the needs of the poor, marginalized and hard to reach communities of this country,” he said.
He then added that the establishment of the regional and district offices throughout the
country will help address the imperative need to ensure that people feel the Commission’s presence.
Justice Minister Aboubacarr Tambadou said respect for human rights and fundamental freedom remain the cornerstone of the country’s governance architecture.
Tambadou vowed that no efforts will be spared by gov’t to achieve its goals.
“Our progress, in this regard, is irreversible,” he added.
He went further to indicate that the establishment of the NHRC was done in full compliance with the Paris principles of autonomy.
Gambia’s Justice Minister said the Act establishing the national human watchdog made it clear that the Commission’s independence shall not compromised by any person or authority.
He reminded the gathering that the commission has the powers and privileges of a high court judge at trial, to hear complaints, summon witnesses, compel the production of documents and enforce its decision.
Speaking earlier, the NHRC Chairperson, Emmanuel Daniel Joof, acknowledged the great strides taken by gov’t and geared towards regaining Gambia’s lost track record.
“The NHRC therefore has a wide mandate to cause of human rights which not only include civil and political rights but also economic, social and cultural rights,” Joof remarked.
In an attempt to set the record straight, NHRC boss cleared air over the mandate of the Commission, saying that they have not been tasked with the responsibility to “investigate and or examine the past human rights abuses records of the former regime.
Joof went so far as to say that it is important that every Gambian take serious lessons from the country’s recent history. “It is only then that we will be able to fully appreciate the importance of a national human rights commission and the need to for the respect for human right in general,” he said.
Other members of the Commission include Jainaba Jom, Imam Baba Leigh, Njundu Drammeh’s and Agnes Campbell.