RESPONSE OF THE GAMBIA TO UPR RECOMMENDATIONS

Every four years each member state of the United Nations is subjected to universal Yaya Jammehperiodic review (UPR). The first cycle of the UPR of The Gambia was in 2010 when the Gambia delegation was led by Marie Saine Firdaus. The second cycle was 28 October and the delegation was led this time by Mr Basiru Mahoney.

The ultimate goal of UPR is the improvement of the human rights situation in every country with significant consequences for people around the globe.

The reviews are conducted by the UPR Working Group which consists of the 47 members of the Council; however any UN Member State can take part in the discussion/dialogue with the reviewed States. Each State review is assisted by groups of three States, known as “troikas”, who serve as rapporteurs.

This time the human rights council has selected France, Kenya and Maldives to serve as rapporteurs (troika) to facilitate the review of the Gambia.

After the review the troika prepared the outcome report which contained a summary of the proceedings of the review process, the presentation made by The Gambia, the interactive dialogue and responses by The Gambia during the review and conclusions and recommendations. The report was made available to The Gambia government who are given the opportunity to submit their response to human rights council before it considers the report for adoption. On 24 March 2015 The Gambia submitted its response to the 171 recommendations.

The standard procedure is as follows: “The reviewed State has the opportunity to make preliminary comments on the recommendations choosing to either accept or note them.” In short the response should be either “accepted” or “noted”. However, The Gambia had three responses: “accepted”, “noted” and “rejected”.

A review of the template of the response of the Gambia reveals 93 recommendations have been accepted, 43 noted and 35 rejected. However the chair of the session “93 recommendations enjoyed the support of The Gambia” while “78 recommendations were noted. This suggests that the troika regards what was rejected as noted.

However, in this series we will present the response of The Gambia as they did.

RECOMMENDATIONS AND RESPONSES

 Recommendation 109.1 and 109.2: Ratify the conventions to which it is not yet party in keeping with the recommendations accepted during the first Review. (Recommended by Niger and Chad)

RESPONSE

We will study those conventions ratify those in the best interest of the State to do so.

  1. Recommendation 109.3, 109.4, 109.5, 109.6, 109.7 and 109.8: Ratify the second optional protocol to the international covenant on civil and political rights, aimed at ensuring the abolition of the death penalty. (Recommended by Montegnegro, Portugal, Rwanda, Angola and Germany)

RESPONSE

This recommendation is rejected. The death penalty is provided for in the Laws of the Gambia and Constitution.

NB: 109.8 reads: Ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Portugal). It does not deal with the death penalty.

  1. Recommendation 109.9–109.21: Consider the ratification of the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading treatment or Punishment and its Optional Protocol and harmonize the convention with the national legislation. (Indonesia, Gabon, Portugal, Tunisia, Ghana, Mali, Sierra Leone, Denmark, Togo, France, Uruguay, Australia and Botswana)

RESPONSE

Recommendation noted.

  1. Recommendation 109.22 and 109.23: Ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women. (Recommended by Mali and Thailand)

RESPONSE

Accepted subject to the Constitution of the Gambia.

  1. Recommendation 109.24–109.26: Ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the rights of the child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. (Recommended by Uruguay, Thailand and Portugal)

RESPONSE

Accepted.

  1. Recommendation 109.27 and 109.28: Consider acceding to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the rights of the child on communication procedures. (Recommended by Thailand and Portugal)

RESPONSE

Noted.

  1. Recommendation 109.29 and 109.30: Consider the ratification of the convention on the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and the members of their families.(Recommended by Indonesia and Ghana)

RESPONSE

Noted.

  1. Recommendation 109.31–109.36: Sign and Ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced disappearance and harmonise the convention with national legislation. (Recommended by Uruguay, Portugal, Tunisia, France, Argentina and Ghana)

RESPONSE

Noted.

  1. Recommendation 109.37–109.42: Ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and ensure that persons with Disabilities are free from all forms of discrimination and social exclusion. (Recommended by Maldives)

RESPONSE

Accepted. In fact this Convention was ratified in July 2013 and there is also a Disability Bill under consultation.

NB: Recommendations 109.38 – 109.42 have not been dealt with. They are as follows:

109.38 Ratify the Rome Statute (Tunisia);

109.39 Ratify or accede to the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the International Criminal Court and implement it fully at national level (Slovakia);

109.40 Ratify the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education (Portugal);

109.41 Incorporate into its national legislation most of the international legal human rights instruments that the Gambia has acceded to (Mauritania);

109.42 Comply with its existing international and regional human rights obligations (Germany);

 

  1. Recommendation 109.43–109.48: Consider enacting a comprehensive law prohibiting the practice of female Genital Mutilation. (Recommended by Slovenia, Germany, Ghana, India, Canada, Maldives)

RESPONSE

Noted.

 

  1. Recommendation 109.49 and 109.50: That the president of The Gambia will use his executive power by refraining from signing the Bill amending section 144(A) of the criminal code into law and that the government of The Gambia eliminates all existing legislation criminalizing sexual orientation or gender identity. (Recommended by Netherlands and Sweden)

RESPONSE

Rejected.

  1. Recommendation 109.51–109.56: That The Gambia repeals all provisions of law criminalising same sex relations between consenting adults and ensure the rights of these persons are protected. (Recommended by Sweden, Australia, France, United Kingdom, Canada and Germany)

RESPONSE

Rejected.

  1. Recommendation 109.57 and 109.58: Review the amendments to the criminal code in the area of “false information” in order to guarantee respect for freedom of the media and freedom of expression. (109.57 is recommended by Portugal)

RESPONSE

Noted.

NB: Recommendation 109.58 by Slovakia is as follows: 109.58 Repeal legislation that does not comply with international human rights law, in particular the amendment to the Information and Communication Act, enacted in 2013 and the amendment to the Criminal Code, enacted in 2013.

  1. Recommendation 109.59–109.64: Amend the legislation to remove restriction on freedom of expression which has a major impact on human rights defenders, journalists and members of the political opposition. (Recommended by Spain, Australia, Canada, Germany, France and Chile)

RESPONSE

Rejected

  1. Recommendation 109.65 and 109.66: Enact Laws prohibiting forced and early marriage of girls. (109.65 Recommended by Central African Republic)

RESPONSE

Accepted.

NB: Recommendation 109.66 is different and reads: Incorporate into national legislation provisions to ensure the effective implementation of the rights of men and women to equal pay for equal work (Congo);

  1. Recommendation 109.67 and 109.68: Conclude the ongoing consultations concerning the draft Disability Bill to be adopted at the nearest time possible. (Recommended by Kuwait and Venezuela)

RESPONSE

Accepted.

  1. Recommendation 109.69–109.80: Accelerate the progress of consultations and ensure that the National Human Rights Institution functions in accordance with the Paris Principles.(Recommended by India, Tunisia, Niger, Gabon , Chile, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Egypt and Sudan)

RESPONSE

Accepted.

NB: Recommendation 109.80 is as follows: Continue to promote and protect the rights of women and children (Djibouti).

Recommendation 109.81: Provide the necessary financial and human resources to strengthen the implementation of policies and programmes for the empowerment of women in social and public life. (Recommended by Malaysia)

RESPONSE

Accepted.

  1. Recommendation 109.82: Adopt a national Action Plan on security Council Resolution on Women Peace and security. (Recommended by Portugal)

RESPONSE

Accepted.

  1. Recommendation 109.83: Follow up effectively the National Action Plan to accelerate the eradication of female genital mutilation and the implementation preventative measures. (Recommended by Spain)

RESPONSE

Accepted.

  1. Recommendation 109.84: Pursue efforts carried out by the Gambia Government in the framework of the National Policy for Gender Equality and promotion of women for the period of 2010 to 2020. (Recommended by Algeria)

RESPONSE

Accepted.

  1. Recommendation 109.85 and 109.86: Continue further improvement of the protection and promotion of human rights in the country. (Recommended by Azerbaijan and Bangladesh)

RESPONSE

Accepted.

  1. Recommendation 109.87: Continue efforts aimed at promoting awareness of the culture of human rights in the Gambian Society. (Recommended by Egypt)

RESPONSE

Accepted.

  1. Recommendation 109.88: Improve its cooperation with treaty bodies. (Recommended by Niger)

RESPONSE

Accepted.

  1. Recommendation 109.89: Submit the long outstanding reports to the Human Rights Committee and to the committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. (Recommended by Sierra Leone)

RESPONSE

Accepted.

  1. Recommendation 109.90: Take all necessary measures to address the backlog in the submission of reports to treaty bodies. Recommended by Burkina Faso)

RESPONSE

Accepted.

  1. Recommendation 109.91: Consider issuing a standing invitation to the United Nations Human Rights Special Procedures. (Recommended by Rwanda)

RESPONSE

Noted.

  1. Recommendation 109.92–109.5: Accept the visit of the Special Procedures [providing for Special Rapporteurs on toture and summary executions] of the Human Rights Council and allow them access without restrictions. (Recommended by Uruguay, Mexico, Costa Rica and Denmark)

RESPONSE

Noted.

  1. Recommendation 109.96: Take all necessary measures, both legislative and educational, to eradicate negative stereotypes and attitudes towards women. (Recommended by Italy)

RESPONSE

Accepted in line with Government`s policy on women empowerment.

  1. Recommendation 109.97–109.100: Withdraw Criminal laws sanctioning homosexuality and take action to combat violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Response

Rejected. The position of Gambia on same sex relationship is very clear. For the record however no person has been subjected to any form of violence based on sexual orientation. They are prosecuted in accordance to the laws of the Gambia.

NB: The recommendations are as follows:

109.97 Withdraw the criminal laws sanctioning homosexuality and take action to combat violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity (Italy);

109.98 Take on board policies to promote human rights regardless of the sexual orientation of persons (Spain);

109.99 Ensure that the human rights of all Gambian citizens are respected, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, by repealing discriminatory laws that are inconsistent with international human rights principles (United States of America);

109.100 Guarantee to LGBTI persons the full and equal enjoyment of their human rights, and protection from criminalization and stigmatization (Argentina).

 

  1. Recommendation 109.101 and 109.102: Maintain the moratorium on execution with a view to abolishing the death penalty. (Recommended by Italy)

RESPONSE

Rejected.

NB: Recommendation 109.102 reads: Reinstate and respect the moratorium on the death penalty with a view to preparing a referendum on its possible abolition in accordance with the stipulations of the national Constitution (Recommended by Mexico);

  1. Recommendation 109.103: Consider establishing a new moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty in the future. (Recommended by Brazil)

RESPONSE

Rejected.

  1. Recommendation 109.104–109.109: Adopt a permanent moratorium on the death penalty with a view of its future abolition [ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights]. (Recommended by Costa Rica, France, Togo, Spain, Uruguay and Australia)

  RESPONSE

Rejected.

 

  1. Recommendation 109.110: Investigate all complaints of torture and adopt necessary preventive measures to eliminate this practice. (Recommended by Spain)

RESPONSE

Accepted.

  1. Recommendation 109.111 and 109.112: Continue to improve the conditions of prisoners. (Recommended by Djibouti)

RESPONSE

Accepted.

NB: Recommendation 109.112 reads: Improve the conditions of detention in all places of detention and ensure that prisoners and detainees have access to medical care, adequate and appropriate food, hygiene and exercise (Recommended by Slovakia);

  1. Recommendation 109.113–109.116: Adopt and implement effective legislation aimed at banning female genital mutilation and punishing the perpetrators. (Recommended by Italy, Montenegro, Angola and Australia)

RESPONSE

Accepted.

  1. Recommendation 109.117, 109.118–109.120: Enhance its initiatives designed to halt female genital mutilation and related harmful practices. (Recommended by Brazil, Chile, Ethiopia and Rwanda)

  RESPONSE

Accepted.

  1. Recommendation 109.121–109.124: Intensify efforts to ensure gender equality and eliminate sexual and gender based violence [by ensuring the full implementation of the adopted law on sexual and gender-based offences against women]. (Recommended by Rwanda, Montenegro, Botswana and Chile)

RESPONSE

Accepted. In fact the Sexual Offences Act and Domestic violence Act were recently enacted.

  1. Recommendation 109.125: Enforce laws relating to child labour. (Recommended by Central African Republic)

    RESPONSE

Accepted.

  1. Recommendation 109.126: Explore and maximize the benefits from international cooperation and partnerships to support initiatives to combat trafficking in persons, especially women and children. (Recommended by The Philippines)

    RESPONSE

Accepted. In fact the National Agency against the Trafficking in persons, collaborates with International organizations and non Governmental Organizations to combat trafficking of persons.

  1. Recommendation 109.127: Seek technical assistance to improve the judiciary, in order to more adequately execute its functions. (Recommended by Sierra Leone)

RESPONSE

Accepted.

  1. Recommendation 109.128–109.132: Ensure the independence of the judiciary. (Recommended by Central Afican Republic, India, Thailand, Kuwait, Mexico)

    RESPONSE

Accepted.

NB: The Mexican recommendation went further. It stated: Take measure to ensure the independence of the judiciary, including by means of eradicating the system of presidential decisions on the appointment of judges.

  1. Recommendation 109.133: Ensure independent, effective and speedy investigation to violations of the right to freedom of expression committed by officials engaged in law enforcement duties, to hold those responsible to account; and provide redress to victims. IRecommended by Sweden)

RESPONSE

Accepted, please note however that The Gambia has in place structures that conduct independent and effective investigations in respect of any violations of law committed by any person.

  1. Recommendation 109.134: Implement swiftly and without preconditions the verdict of the ECOWAS court of 10 June 2014 on the need of a thorough investigation to the disappearances of journalists Manneh and Hydara. (Recommended by the Netherlands)

    RESPONSE

Noted.

  1. Recommendation 109.135: Investigate disappearance of U.S. Citizens Alhaji Ceesay and Ebrima Jobe. (Recommended by the US)

RESPONSE

Accepted.

  1. Recommendation 109.136: Promote national efforts aimed at enhancing judicial reform, so as to cater for expanding recourse to courts of law, partly as a result of the growth of the Gambia economy (Recommended by Egypt).

RESPONSE

Accepted.

  1. Recommendation 109.137 and 109.138: Consider drawing up a legislation to raise the legal age of marriage to 18 years. (Recommended by Sierra Leone and Togo)

   RESPONSE

Rejected. There is already a law in place which defines the age of a child and protects the child from early marriage. Our laws are however subject to personal laws as provided for in the Constitution.

  1. Recommendation 109.139: Take steps to prevent child early and forced marriage, including through education and awareness campaigns. (Canada)

    RESPONSE

Accepted as it is in line with Government`s efforts to protect and promote children`s rights.

  1. Recommendation 109.140 and 109.141: promote and guarantee freedom of expression in compliance with international standards as recommended previously. (Recommended by Sweden and Tunisia)

  RESPONSE

Accepted, subject to the laws of the Gambia.

  1. Recommendation 109.142–109.144: create and maintain in law and in practice, a safe and enabling environment, in which rights defenders can operate free from hindrance and insecurity, in accordance with Human Rights Council Resolution 22/6. (Tunisia, France and Ireland)

   RESPONSE

Accepted, however subject to the laws of The Gambia.

  1. Recommendation 109.145: Fully protect and promote freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly for all, without fear of arbitrary detention, intimidation or harassment, and to investigate all allegations, of torture or ill-treatment and hold the perpetrators to account. (Recommended by United Kingdom)

    RESPONSE

Accepted, subject to the laws of The Gambia.

  1. Recommendation 109.146: Decriminalize offences related to freedom of expression and guarantee that human rights defenders and journalists can carry out their work in an atmosphere of freedom and security. (Recommended by Mexico)

RESPONSE

Noted. It should also be noted however that in the Gambia, human rights defenders and journalists can carry out their work in an atmosphere of freedom and security, subject to the laws of The Gambia.

  1. Recommendation 109.147: Take all the necessary measures to ensure that all persons, including journalists, opposition leaders and political opponents and human rights defenders can freely exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly without fear of arrest, detention, intimidation or harassment. (Recommended by Mexico)

   RESPONSE

Accepted, subject to the Laws of the Gambia.

  1. Recommendation 109.148: Demonstrate its commitment to freedom of expression, including by members of the press, by allowing the UN unfettered access to complete its investigation of the death of journalist Deyda Hydara in 2004 and the disappearance of journalist Ebrima Manneh in 2006. (Recommended by United States)

  RESPONSE

Rejected, there cannot be unfettered access anywhere.

  1. Recommendation 109.149–109.154: Continue its positive approach in combating poverty by providing the necessary support in rural infrastructure and its national employment policy to reduce unemployment. (Recommended by Malaysia, Nicaragua, Philippines, China , South Africa and Sudan)

RESPONSE

Accepted.

  1. Recommendation 109.155: Continue strengthening its social protection programme that is already implementing, in order to provide for even greater well-being quality for its people. (Recommended by Venezuela)

    RESPONSE

Accepted.

  1. Recommendation 109.156–109.160: further strengthen driven policies in the area of health, in order to achieve the objective of universal access to health. (Recommended by Venezuela, Algeria, Cuba and Ethiopia)

    RESPONSE

Accepted, because it is in line with Government`s policies.

  1. Recommendation 109.161: Take action at all levels to address the interlinked root causes of preventable mortality and morbidity of children under 5 and consider applying the “Technical Guidance on the application of a human rights based approach to the implementation of policies and programmes to reduce and eliminate presentable mortality and morbidity of children under 5 years of age”, A/HRC/27/31. (Recommended by Ireland)

RESPONSE

Accepted.

  1. Recommendation 109.162: Continue to implement its HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment programmes to further reduce the prevalence. (Recommended by Singapore)

RESPONSE

Accepted.

  1. Recommendation 109.163: Continue to invest in education and training. (Recommended by Djibouti)

    RESPONSE

Accepted because it is in line with Government`s policies.

  1. Recommendation 109.164–109.167: Continue with the positive approach in the field of education, especially the construction of more schools and educational centres, which contributed to an increase in student enrolment rates in the various stages of education. (Recommended by Libya, Singapore, Venezuela and Cuba)

    RESPONSE

Accepted.

  1. Recommendation 109.168: Intensify the policy of social reintegration of abandoned children and school dropouts. (Recommended by the Democratic Republic of Congo)

RESPONSE

Accepted.

  1. Recommendation 109.169: Continue efforts to provide more education to persons with disabilities. (Recommended by South Sudan)

  RESPONSE

Accepted.

  1. Recommendation 109.170: In the context of global partnerships for development, to seek assistance from the United Nations System, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and development partners to mobilize requisite resources with respect to financial assistance to aid the establishment of transit centres for refugees and capacity building in the administration and management of refugees and stateless persons. (Recommended by South Africa)

RESPONSE

Accepted.

  1. Recommendation 109.171: Provide additional resources to the National Commission for Refugees in order to facilitate their reintegration and better organize their legal protection. (Recommended by the Democratic Republic of Congo)

    RESPONSE

Accepted.