Alarming Situation of Human Rights Defenders in the Gambia

Lome: The West African Human Rights Defenders Network for (ROADHH / WARDHN), is closely following the situation of human rights in Gambia and is particularly concerned by the Gambian human rights defenders situation.

Indeed, in recent years, human rights are constantly threatened Gambian in carrying out their activities in Gambian territory.

Journalists are particularly targeted with the arrest of six (6) of them on August 6, 2009. Even if they were released, they remain within the scope of arrest and imprisonment at any time.

Worse, Monday, September 21, 2009, President Col. AJJ Jammeh, about human rights defenders publicly stated: “I will kill anyone, who wants to destabilize this country. If you think that you can collaborate with so called human rights defenders, and get away with it, you must be living in a dream world. I will kill you, and nothing will come out of it. We are not going to condone people posing as human rights defenders to the detriment of the country. If you are affiliated with any human rights group, be rest assured that your security and personal safety would not be guaranteed by my Government. We are ready to kill saboteurs.”

The ROADDH / WARDHN recalls that both the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which the Gambia is a party and the statements of Great Bay, Kigali and Resolutions ACHPR / Res 69 (XXXV) 04, 4 June 2004 and ACHPR / Res.104 (XX) (Xl) 07 dated May 30, 2007 devoted an important place in the role of human rights defenders in the promotion and protection of human rights. As such, it is the responsibility of the State to take all necessary measures to ensure and preserve the rights of human rights defenders and any citizen or group of individuals wishing to promote and protect human rights.

The ROADDH / WARDHN also recalls that freedom of expression is a right guaranteed by Article 9 of the African Charter of Human Rights which the government of The Gambia is a

To this end, the ROADDH / WAHRDN request:

  • The United Nations Human Rights Council which is holding its 12th session in Geneva, the Commission of the African Union and the African Commission on Human Rights and People to publicly condemn this statement and recall the Gambian government its regional and international obligations in matter of human rights and especially the obligation to protect the human rights defenders in the exercise of their work.
  • That the Commission of the African Union and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights requires the President Col. AJJ Jammeh and his government to ensure the safety of defenders of human rights and all institutions of human rights established in the territory of Gambia
  • To the international community and particularly ECOWAS states, to take necessary measures to assist the Gambian defenders in case of risk


Human Rights Defender of the month: Kasale Maleton Mwaana

Kasale’s human rights activism precedes his years. The son of pastoralist parents from Ngorongoro district in northern Tanzania, he grew up seeing his parents and entire community having to defend their land and way of life against authorities who thought their lands could be put to better use. Now, at 25, Kasale is already one of the most recognizable advocates of his people’s cause, much to the ire of Tanzanian authorities.
“Our people’s struggle goes back many generations. It started with the pushing out of our forefathers from Serengeti to gazette Serengeti National Park in 1959, and then further evictions from the Ngorongoro crater to gazette the Ngorongoro conservation area in 1975. Since then, every generation has had to resist further evictions. It’s now my generation’s turn,” he says.