By Sanna Camara
Human rights NGO, Amnesty International, has called on ECOWAS and the international community to “consider stronger measures if Gambia does not make significant progress towards meeting its human rights obligations under international law.”
In a media dispatch today ahead of the launch of its new report Dangerous to Dissent: human rights under threat in Gambia, Amnesty International said it is calling for ECOWAS to consider the possible suspension of Gambia if no progress on human rights is made.
“In particular, Amnesty International is calling ECOWAS – whose leaders meet for a Summit on 4 June in Dakar – to take action to ensure that its own rules are respected and fully observed”…in addition to a Commission of Inquiry into the recent repression of opposition protests, it said.
Contravention of treaties
Amnesty International’s report highlights among other things, how Gambia is in contravention of its treaties it has signed as a member of regional body ECOWAS.
“These include its failure to effectively implement and observe ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, which demands full respect for the right to freedom of expression, and its refusal to implement three legally-binding judgements by the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice…” it said.
These judgements, relating to the torture of journalist Musa Saidykhan, the enforced disappearance of journalist Ebrima Manneh, and failure to investigate the murder of journalist Deyda Heydara, were all ignored by The Gambia.
“If ECOWAS is serious about being a community of states that respect and promote the human rights of their people, it can no longer remain silent as one of its members so flagrantly disregards its treaty obligations”, said Alioune Tine, Amnesty International Regional Director for West and Central Africa.
“ECOWAS should speak out on the deplorable situation in the country and engage with the Gambian authorities to secure the release of political prisoners, the repeal of repressive laws and to ensure judgements of the regional Court are fully enforced. If the Gambian government refuses to comply, ECOWAS should consider suspension until Gambia’s obligations are met.”