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

    Leaving Scalia Replacement to 2017 Would Mean Unusually Long Vacancy

    History of high court shows Obama not in unique situation during final year of presidency

    US Fact Checkers Debunk Some Republican Candidate Claims 

    Slim evidence for several claims made by Republican presidential candidates at their last debate ahead of next Saturday's key nominating election in South Carolina

    Uganda Presidential Debate a Small Victory for Democracy

    In homes and bars across country, Ugandans were fixated on their screens as eight political candidates running for president took part in national debate

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Ugandai
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    February 12, 2016 9:29 PM
    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video Refugees in Kenya Vie to Compete in Rio Olympics

    In Kenya, refugees from other African nations are training at a special camp and competing for a limited number of slots in this year's Rio Olympics under the flag of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Ngong, this is a first in Olympic history.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.