The third conference of African
National Human rights Institutions is scheduled to take place in The Gambian
capital Banjul from this Sunday November 8 to the 10th.
Union said the conference is expected to come up with a road map for
facilitating collaboration between the African Union organs with human rights
mandate and the African National Human Rights Institutions.
Federation for Human Rights earlier this week called on the African Union to
move the headquarters of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights from
Banjul because it feared for the safety of its delegates due to what it called
‘hostile climate in The Gambia.
Professor Kwame Karikari, executive director for the Media
Foundation for West Africa said the call to move
the headquarters of the AU Commission on Peoples’ and Human Rights from Banjul
is a laudable one.
<!-- IMAGE -->
call to move the headquarters from Banjul is in response to (President) Yahya
Jammeh’s recent threats to kill human rights people in The Gambia because of
his own madness…in that sense, I think we all support the principle that the
commission must be seated where human rights activists, organizations and their
representatives can operate without the interference and threats of the host
government,” he said.
a television speech on September 21, President Jammeh reportedly threatened
those he said were seeking to sabotage or destabilize his government, including
defenders of human rights and all their supporters.
said even the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has had to
condemn The Gambian president’s remarks.
do know that the commission itself is not happy operating from Banjul because
NGOs are pressuring that they cannot come to work with them (the commission)
there. And if they cannot come and work with them, then the work of the
commission is made invalid,” Karikari said.
he said he does not believe that by having the conference of African National
Human Rights Institutions in Banjul the African Union is endorsing Gambia’s dismal
human rights practices.
don’t think they are endorsing it. Some governments have not been happy with
Yahya Jammeh’s treatment of human rights in his own country. But I think that
as far as the AU is concerned, Yahya Jammeh has not issued threats against the
commission,” he said.
described as complicated the problem of African human rights in particular
example, he said even though successive governments in Ethiopia have shown no
respect for human rights, yet the African Union continues to have its
headquarters in Addis Ababa.
growing number of journalists and human rights activists in The Gambia have recently
been imprisoned, tortured or even killed.
said even though President Jammeh in August granted amnesty and released a
number of journalists from prison, the situation of journalists has not
is not improving. The laws that cripple media and freedom of expression are
intact, the security force that he uses to intimidate and harass and torture
people are still there, the press still operates under self-censorship, those
newspapers that have been banned, the radio stations that have been closed down
by force have not been reopened; those who have run away under persecution
cannot go back,” Karikari said.
Media Foundation for West Africa had filed a number of cases with the West
Africa Community Court in Abuja, Nigeria against Gambia’s treatment of
said attempts by President Jammeh to change the protocol establishing the community
court were rejected by the Council of Justice Ministers from the Economic
Community of West African States.
<!-- IMAGE -->