We, Participants of the Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 44th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples ‘Rights,
Considering the provisions of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, the ICCPR and its optional protocol, as well as the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other regional and international human rights instruments to which Gambia is a state party; and that this position legally binds Gambia to fully and effectively implement the provisions of these instruments and respect and promote the human rights and fundamental freedoms set therein, without fail;
Condemning the climate of fear that has been created by the Gambian Government’s routine use of unlawful arrest and unlawful detention, torture while in detention, unfair trials, extrajudicial execution and enforced disappearance by targeting perceived enemies such as human rights defenders, journalists, and anyone suspected of trying to overthrow the government.
Recalling that since the March 2006 alleged coup plot in Gambia there has been a severe deterioration in the human rights situation in Gambia. During and after the alleged coup, human rights defenders, opposition politicians, suspected coup plotters, journalists, and other perceived enemies have suffered from unlawful arrests, unlawful detention, torture, extrajudicial executions, and enforced disappearances. The attack on the freedom of expression has also been widespread and has lead to over 25 journalists leaving Gambia since 1994 and is depriving Gambians everywhere of their right to access objective and unbiased information.
Recalling that unlawful arrests and detention, torture while in detention, unfair trials, poor conditions of detention, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances without access to a fair trial and in deplorable, life-threatening conditions and the denial of the freedom of the press and expression contravenes national, regional and international law.
Recalling the continued ill-treatment of non-Gambians, especially West Africans, in particular the case of the unsolved killings of fifty migrants, including 44 Ghanaians, who were allegedly killed and/or disappeared in the Gambia.
Hereby call on the African Commission Human and Peoples’ Rights to take all the necessary measures to ensure that Gambia complies with its obligations under the African Charter by undertaking the following:
1. Investigating and ensuring accountability for reported cases of human rights violations in the Gambia.
2. Immediate and unconditional release of all victims of enforced disappearances – including Chief Ebrima Manneh and Kanyi Kaniba who have been unlawfully detained for more than two years-, as well as other detainees including prisoners of conscience who are confined in various prisons and unknown detention facilities across the country or offer them public and fair trial;
3. Realizing and implementing the constitution of the country especially with respect to Gambians right to liberty; freedom from torture, right to a fair trial, and freedom of the press and association.
4. Ceasing all acts of torture in detention, interference in the judiciary especially in cases of political trials, and all extrajudicial executions.
5. Providing the necessary support to all organizations, family and friends of detainees in order to ensure that they have access to the detainees and are able to assess the health and living conditions of the detainees;
6. Desisting with immediate effect from intimidation of media institutions, and respect freedom of expression and media;
7. Respecting the rights of journalists and bring an immediate end to the threats, torture, and intimidation to which journalists are being subjected;
8. Fully respecting all Gambians rights to a fair trial, right to life, and freedom of the press and expression as provided for by regional and international human rights instruments.
9. Fully cooperating with ongoing investigations into the case of alleged killings of 50 migrants and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.
Done in Abuja, November 9th, 2008