News / Africa

Activists Call for Gambian Government to Improve Human Rights Record

FILE - Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh, Feb. 27, 2014.
FILE - Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh, Feb. 27, 2014.
Jennifer Lazuta

Activists across West Africa held protests Tuesday on the 20th anniversary of President Yahya Jammeh's seizure of power to raise awareness about what they call Gambia's "dire" human rights situation. Human rights groups are demanding the Gambian government put an end to alleged repression, torture and forced disappearances. 
 
Dozens of protesters gathered outside the Gambian embassy in Senegal's capital to, in their words, raise awareness about ongoing human rights violations in Gambia.
 
Activists in other cities are calling for the Gambian government to revoke laws they say have led to a culture of intimidation, harassment and detention over the past 20 years.
 
“We are here to denounce 20 years of oppression, 20 years of lack of freedom in the Gambia, but also to show signs of solidarity for all the victims of human rights violations, especially those who have lost their lives, those who have disappeared, those that have been tortured and maltreated, and those that have lost their freedom and are in prison for just wanting to be part of the way their country is run and those that wanted just to express their views,” said Fatou Jagne, director of Article 19, an international organization that advocates for freedom of expression and access to information.

Blaming enemies

The Gambian government has previously denounced what it calls a "relentless smear campaign" by Western powers against its human rights record.

In a statement in October 2013, it said Gambia's "enemies" have set up organizations to spread lies and make what it called "false, outrageous and unfounded statements" about the state of human rights in the country.
 
But many Gambians say they have been subjected to years of oppression and fear since the 1994 military coup that brought President Yahya Jammeh to power.
 
Jammeh reinstated the death penalty and enacted restrictive freedom of expression laws, which, according to human rights defenders, are so vague that they can be used to charge anyone who expresses any sort of dissent.
 
Former Gambian political prisoner Amadou Janneh was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 for distributing T-shirts that read “End Dictatorship Now.”  He is currently living in asylum in the United States.
 
“The Gambia today has one of the worst human rights records in the world and in almost every sphere of fundamental human rights you can be assured that the Gambian government disregards its own laws and you have severe violations in the area of freedom of expression," he said. "You have journalists who have disappeared, been killed, simply for performing their duties ...  The president does not allow any modicum of dissent in the country.”

Change needed

Amnesty International, which has documented the unpublicized executions of death row inmates and torture of human rights activists in Gambia, says it is time for things to change.
 
“We are really calling for the international community and the government of Senegal, but also the government of Gambia, to put an end to this regime of fear by repealing legal provisions in the criminal code which are used to restrict dissent, to release political prisoners and to hold perpetrators of human rights violations to account and bring them to justice,” said Francois Patuel, Amnesty International’s West Africa campaigner.
 
Protesters gathered Tuesday in countries such as Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mali, Ghana, Togo, Senegal, and Sierra Leone to express solidarity with the Gambian rights campaign. 

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More