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UN Special Rapporteurs in The Gambia
UN Special Rapporteurs in The Gambia

United Nations Human Rights Council will this week formally hear the UN Special Rapporteur’s report on Dictator Yahya Jammeh’s human Rights records in the Gambia. The event will take place at the 29th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

Mr Christof Heyns, who jointly visited the Gambia with the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Mendez. Mr Heyns will participate in the 29th session scheduled to take place on 18 and 19 June 2015. He will address the Council about the country-specific and thematic report for Gambia, as well as conduct an interactive dialogue with State delegations and NGO officials at the session.

Mr. Heyns and the Special Rapporteur conducted an official visit in the Gambia from 3 to 7 November 2014. Their report will presents the special rapporteur’s main findings with regards to the imposition of the death penalty; the resumption of executions; the use of force by law enforcement agencies; impunity for extrajudicial executions; torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, use of force during demonstrations; lack of accountability for human rights violations; risks and fears of reprisals for freedom of expression, etc. Their proposed recommendations for the Gambia government, the international community and civil society to prevent unlawful killings and improve human rights protection in the Gambia.

The United Nations officials’ visit was originally scheduled for August 2014, but was postponed by the Gambia government at the last minute for reasons still unknown. They were later invited to visit the country for 4 days in November 2014. During which, the government refused them access to visit Mile 2 Central prison or interview detainees.

Instead the Special Rapporteur was limited to meetings with the Vice-President of the Gambia; the Minister of Foreign Affairs; the Minister of Interior; the Minister of Justice; officials of the Office of the Attorney General; the Office of the Solicitor General and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions; the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency; the Director General of the National Drug Enforcement Agency; the Director General of Prisons; the Inspector General of Police; the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and High Court Justices; the Prison Visiting Committee and the Office of the Ombudsman.

The additional to those meetings the Special Rapporteur met with the United Nations country team, the diplomatic community and civil society. In preparation for the visit, the Special Rapporteur met in Senegal with staff of the OHCHR West Africa Regional Office, and with representatives of the international community and members of the Gambian community in exile.

The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions expresses regret that the President of the Gambia was not available for a meeting with the two Special Rapporteurs during their stay in Banjul.