On August 22, 2013 participants at a workshop validated a document that would pave the way for the establishment of a national human rights institution in the Gambia.
The Solicitor General said the institution when established would serve as an Independent body to deal with human rights matters as well as a special advisory body to the Gambia Government.
Facilitators told participants, “The creation of this institution would provide a viable avenue for the citizenry to lodge their complaints on human rights and other violations.” The institute can help in the drafting of legislation that is passed through Parliament, ensuring that it is in compliance with international human rights obligations which the Gambia has ratified as a country.
Participants were also told that the institution would look at several issues such as press freedom, detention centres like Prisons, where human rights are violated, investigate and make recommendations, etc.
Media freedom, detention without trial and other human rights violation in The Gambia are topical issues and the establishment of such an institution can go some way in addressing such issues.
ECOWAS member states had seen the need to establish national human rights institutions in all member states in accordance with article 35 paragraph 1 of the Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance which stipulates:
“Member States shall establish independent national institutions to promote and protect human rights.”
In fact the ECOWAS Network of National Human Rights Institution held a meeting in Banjul as a follow-up to the Cotonou meeting in February 2009, where an agreement was made to set up a steering committee mandated to set targets, indicators, performances and mechanisms to review human rights challenges in the sub-region of West Africa.
Foroyaa will get in touch with the Office of the Solicitor General to find out what progress has been made so far regarding the proposed national human rights institution.