National Human Rights Commission Calls On State To Protect Rights Of All
Updated: Jun 17
Friday 12 June | By Yero S. Bah
NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION CALLS ON STATE TO PROTECT RIGHTS OF ALL
According to National Human Rights Commission of the Gambia, the state is the primary duty bearer of protecting the rights of all citizens including the rights of people of different sexual orientations such as gays and lesbians in the country.
The commission made these remarks on Thursday June 11, 2020 following a press briefing at the commission’s headquarters in Kotu. The press conference was organized by the commission to launch the Annual National Human Rights Commission report but also to shed more light on the actual mandate of the commission.
The Chairperson of the commission Mr. Emmanuel Daniel Joof gave an overview of the commission’s mandate, activities, engagements, highlighted achievements in 2019, as well as challenges and lessons learned, saying the commissioners started from scratch without an office and other vital logistical facilities.
He explained that, the Human Rights Commission is an independent body that is tasked with the responsibilities of ensuring that government of the Gambia adheres to universal standards of human rights by forwarding recommendations and advices to the state in matters regarding human rights noting that the commission is not a civil society organization neither a government agency whilst admitting that there are lot of misconceptions about the mandates of the commission.
Mr. Joof continued that, his commission is actually advocating for the protection of all human rights including that of the rights to civil and political freedom, labour, disabilities, economic, rights to quality education, health but as well as of rights of gays and lesbians in the country saying human rights calls for “due process” of the law in any case.
He noted that, the commission has already submitted the annual report to government of the Gambia where they have been able to make key recommendations to the state on issues bordering on human rights for possible redress or improvements. “As Gambians, we must follow due process in all we do.”
Joof charged that, the commission is not inventing any new human rights but rather promoting and protecting the rights that are enshrined in chapter 4 of the 1997 constitution of the Gambia. He highlighted key successes of the commission citing their interventions on the closures and subsequent reopening of Home Digital and King FM radio stations and the detention of some of the staffs of these media houses by inviting both parties to a round table talk where they were able to iron out differences.
He added that, several of their interventions have resolved certain human rights issues with the government of the Gambiasuch as the media in the infamous Three Years Jotna MovementProtests, the URR Sarahuleh caste system and other human rights flashpoints in which success was registered through their interventions.
He said that, the primary mandates of the commission is to look into human rights issues in the country, make recommendations to government for redress, promote and protect human rights of citizens, advise government on international human rights standards but also has mediatory roles in conflicts situations.
The commission has developed an individual complain mechanism, visited various prison and detention centers around the country, is working on a five year work plan, as well as having quasi-judicial powers in certain instances. The commission has started investigating human rights bordering on land issues, mining, environmental and cultural rights violations and these areas will occupy the commission in the coming years as the Chairperson described them as flashpoints.
According to the report, the commission has come up with over ninety (90) recommendations to government in over key twenty (20) aspects of human rights in the Gambia including the rights for government to protect the rights of homosexuals saying it is obligatory upon government to protect the rights of everyone.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Imam Baba Leigh seized the moment to lambast his critics who asked him to resign from the commission due to his religious position since the rights body called for the protection of gays and lesbians rights in the country defending his role at the right commission.