Government Urged to Address Past Rights Violations and Avoid Recurrence

By Awa B. Bah

The delegation of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has undertaken its first official visit to The Gambia from 12 to 19 June 2017 headed by Ms. Houria Es-Slami. After a study on the measures adopted by the government of the Gambia to prevent and eradicate enforced disappearances, including issues related to truth, justice and reparation for the victims of enforced disappearances.
The expert delegation, who visited The Gambia at the invitation of the Government, met with the President, the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of the Interior and other high­ level State authorities, as well as civil society organizations and relatives of disappeared persons, and all relevant UN agencies in the Gambia during their three day visit.

The Working Group established in 1980 by the then UN Commission on Human Rights to assist families in determining the fate and whereabouts of disappeared relatives it endeavors to establish a channel of communication between the families and the Governments concerned, to ensure that individual cases are investigated, with the objective of clarifying the whereabouts of persons who having disappeared, are placed outside the protection of the law. In view of its humanitarian mandate, clarification occurs when the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person are clearly established. The Working Group continues to address cases of disappearances until they are resolved. It also provides assistance in the implementation by States of the

According to the Head of the delegation Ms. Houria Es-Slami the Gambia is witnessing encouraging signs in moves to shed light on past human rights violations, including enforced disappearances, but must have involve families fully in the process, a delegation of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances said today at during a hold a press conference with journalist at the UNDP House in Cape Point, Bakau.

She Said the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances is comprised of five independent experts from all regions of the world. The Working Groups she revealed are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council and the Special Procedures are the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system as the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate holders she said from any government or organization, adding that they serve in their individual capacity.

One of the Working Group’s primary tasks she said is to assist families in determining the fate or whereabouts of their love ones and communication between family members of victims of enforced disappearance and other sources reporting cases of disappearances, and the Governments concerned.

For this purpose the Group she noted receives, examines and transmits to Governments reports of enforced disappearances submitted by relatives of disappeared persons or human rights organizations acting on their behalf. The Working Group request Governments to carry out investigations and to inform the Working Group of the results while the Working Group follows up those requests of information on a periodic basis. Those cases she said remain open in the Working Group’s database until the fate or whereabouts of the person is determined.