European Parliament Condemns Gambia’s Worsening Rights Situation

(JollofNews) – The European Parliament Tuesday passed a resolution deploring what it called the constant reports of harassment, arbitrary detention, persecution and forced disappearance of members of the political opposition, independent journalists and human right defenders by the APRC regime of President Yahya Jammeh.

The resolution said fundamental freedom and democratic space in the West African nation is worsening with ruthless repression of civil society members and dissidents, and the use of state security forces and paramilitary groups to silence criticism.

It reminded the government that the respect for freedom of expression, association and assembly are fundamental to any democratic society and guaranteed by the Gambian constitution, and that excessive force in response to peaceful protests should be avoided in all circumstances.

The resolution expressed deep regrets at the alleged killing of the United Democratic Party’s (UDP) national organising secretary, Ebrima Solo Sandeng and other party members in state custody after they were arrested for taking part in anti-government protest.

It called for an independent and impartial investigation on the circumstances of their detention, including the allegations of torture and other ill-treatments.

It further reminded the regime of its obligations to guarantee fundamental rights, including access to justice and the right to a fair trial as well as freedom of religion, thought and expression,

as provided for in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that Gambia has ratified, and other international and regional human rights instruments.

The resolution added that as the Gambia has agreed under the Cotonou Agreement to respect democracy, the rule of law and human rights principles which include freedom of expression and freedom of the media; the EU should make use of all available political means to ensure the country’s commitment to human rights, the rule of law, good governance and democracy; in this regards.

It also called for a more assertive EU approach in using the political dialogue and the consultation mechanism under the Cotonou as a tool in cases of severe human rights breaches.

The European Union is the Gambia’s largest donor but relationships between the two has hit the rocks due to the regime’s poor human rights record.

Recently the EU blocked some 13 million euros of bilateral funding to the Gambia due to lack of progress in several areas of human rights and rule of law.