IHRDA Calls Government to investigate alleged violations, release protesters

Statement by IHRDA on the allegations of torture and ill treatment following the protests of 14th and 16th April, 2016 in the Republic of The Gambia 18 April 2016

The Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) is concerned about reports in the media that, following the protests of 14 April, 2016 and 16 April, 2016, in the Republic of The Gambia, several individuals who took part in a peaceful demonstration in Banjul have been arbitrarily arrested and detained, and that several of these individuals were reportedly tortured and subjected to cruel or degrading treatment or punishment.

News reports state that opposition party member, Solo Sandeng, and possibly two others, died as a result of the treatment they suffered while in custody of State security agents.

While we appreciate the responsibility of the Gambian government to maintain law and order during protests, we are concerned about the excessive use of force allegedly meted out to the protesters, and which resulted in the death of innocent civilians. IHRDA therefore reminds the Government of its duty to protect the rights of its citizens, in particular, the freedom of expression and political participation.

International law binding on the Gambia, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, mandate the Government to effectively investigate all allegations of human rights violations and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

In light of these obligations, IHRDA calls on the Government of the Republic of The Gambia to effectively investigate all allegations of excessive use of force, torture and ill treatment meted out to individuals who took part in the protests of 14th and 16th April, 2016 and to prosecute the perpetrators of these violations in the courts of law.

We also call on the Government to unconditionally release all those who were arrested while engaging in peaceful demonstrations, in accordance with the State’s responsibility under the 1997 Constitution and its international law commitments.