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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid