The media right group Article 19, has organized a side event on “Crackdown on Freedom of expression and Assembly ahead of the Presidential election” in the Gambia. The conference attracted delegates from various walks of life. It is aimed at shedding light on the dent caused by the Jammeh dictatorship in crippling media freedom in the country.
In the meantime, Amnesty international has presented its findings on the violent repression and arrest that occurred in April-May 2016, especially the allegations of death, torture and conviction of political detainees which include the UDP top Executives.
“The type of violations targeting opposition’s members creates a climate of fear and self-censorship to journalists,” said Amnesty.
The panel was attended by the Chairperson of the African Commission, Pansy Tlaklula who is also the Commissioner for Freedom of Expression, and Mme Jamesina King the Commissioner for the Gambia.
Commissioner Tlaklula said ”The Commission has been very preoccupied by the situation of human rights and freedom of expression in the Gambia for many years. We have issued numerous letters of appeal that remain unanswered. We are especially concerned as we move towards the elections.”
Commissioner King added “ We are renewing our request to visit the prisons in Gambia and are calling for the release of all prisoners of conscience” At the end of the event, panelists recommended that the Commission make recommendation to the Executive council of ministers of the AU so that Gambia complies with its obligations under the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. They encouraged ECOWAS to observe the upcoming election. They asked that, prior to the election, the government commit to prevent violation by security agencies and hold them accountable should they occur.