IHRDA Exposes Gambia’s Intelligence Officers on Human Rights Concepts

By Kebba Jeffang

The Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA), on Tuesday trained officers of The Gambia State Intelligence Services (SIS) formerly National Intelligence Agency (NIA), on human rights concepts such as right to personal liberty and prohibition of torture.

The Executive Director of the institution Gaye Sowe, said the three-day intensive training will enable the setting up of a new breed of professionalism within the most feared security institution during the past regime.

“IHRDA is committed to collaborating with State and non-States actors in The Gambia, especially through this period of reforms, in view of promoting the respect of rights in the country,” he said.

“Discussions will include diverse and pertinent issues related to their functions notably, basic human rights concepts; fundamental rights in The Gambia’s Constitution; the right to personal liberty; prohibition of torture; arrest and search procedures; the rights of detainees; national security and human rights; as well as rights and treatment of women, children and non-nationals in conflict with the law. All topics will be discussed within the contexts of Gambian and international law,” Sowe said.
Ousman Sowe, the Director General of the SIS, welcomed the initiative saying it was timely, considering the ongoing reforms in the country.

“Let human rights be the watch word for you in the exercise of your duties. Therefore, while you seek to enforce the law, be guided by the principles of human rights and shun exercising excesses,” he advised officers.

The training project is funded by the British Embassy in Banjul with the view of building the capacity of the SIS officers in a professional way with maximum respect for human rights and the rule of law.

The training will include another workshop for another set of officers and will facilitate the participation of two SIS officers in a short human rights course in The UK, to be followed by a training of trainers’ workshop to ensure in-house capacity building for human rights education. The program will also include the development of a human rights manual for the SIS, according to the IHRDA release.