UN Special Rapporteurs on torture and summary executions to visit to Gambia

GENEVA (30 October 2014) – Two United Nations Special Rapporteurs willChristof Heyns Juan Méndez carry out the first official visit ever to The Gambia by experts of the Human Rights Council Special Procedures*.

The UN Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, and on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan Méndez, will visit the country from 3 to 7 November 2014, at the invitation of the Government.

“I will examine the current level of protection of the right to life in law and in practice in the country,” Mr. Heyns said. “An essential aspect of my visit will focus on the current situation of violence, in particular the level of unlawful killings and death threats by any actor, as well as the efforts to prevent them and ensure justice and accountability in such cases.”

The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions will further look at the legal framework and existing practices in connection to the imposition of the death penalty and assess its level of conformity with international law.

“During the mission, I will assess the situation and identify challenges regarding torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in The Gambia,” the Special Rapporteur on torture said. “I will look into allegations of torture or other ill-treatment, the conditions of detention in all places where persons are deprived of their liberties, including the conditions of persons on death row.”

Mr. Méndez will also examine the national legislation and its accordance with international law, and assess the State’s compliance with the obligation to investigate, prosecute and punish all acts of torture, provide access to legal assistance upon arrest, and guarantee redress and reparation to victims.

The Special Rapporteurs look forward to assist the Gambian Government in coping with some of the challenges it faces regarding these issues and in finding solutions that uphold the rule of law, promote accountability for human rights violations and fulfil the right of reparation for victims.

During the five-day visit, the human rights experts will meet with high-ranking officials, as well as various UN agencies, international and local non-governmental organizations, and civil society representatives in The Gambia. The independent experts will also visit places of detention, including prisons, police stations, interrogation centres, juvenile and women’s facilities and psychiatric institutions.

Mr. Heyns and Mr. Méndez will present their final reports on the visit to The Gambia to the UN Human Rights Council in 2015.

The Special Rapporteurs will hold a press conference on 7 November 2014, at 1:30 pm, at the Conference Room of the Ocean Bay Hotel & Resort, Cape Point, Bakau, Gambia, to share their preliminary findings with the media.

Media Advisory, Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights