Posts Tagged ‘the Gambia’

Oslo Freedom Forum 24-25 September goes on-line

August 17, 2020

For the first time, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is bringing its Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF) online. “While the circumstances may keep us apart, our commitment to supporting activists in their struggle against authoritarian regimes is stronger than ever. Join us online from September 24-25 for the only virtual conference that puts human rights at the top of the global agenda. The political and health crises of the past six months have reminded us how authoritarians use human tragedy to advance their own agendas. Corrupt regimes around the world have exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to impose restrictions on freedom of speech, to arrest peaceful protesters, and to silence dissent. The courage and determination of activists and citizens alike have been tested, yet they remain resilient in the face of tyranny.”

Confirmed speakers for the 2020 Oslo Freedom Forum include:

  • Taiwan’s Digital Minister Audrey Tang
  • Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey
  • Uyghur journalist Gulchehra Hoja
  • Thai opposition leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit
  • Gambian anti-rape activist and survivor Fatou Toufah Jallow
  • Exiled Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Nathan Law
  • North Korean defector Eunhee Park
  • Sudanese doctor and pro-democracy activist Mohamed Nagi Alassam
  • Russian investigative journalist Lyudmila Savchuk
  • Cuban environmentalist and LGBTQ+ rights activist Ariel Ruiz Urquiola
  • “Who Owns Huawei?” author and professor Christopher Balding
  • Oscar-winning film director Bryan Fogel

More speakers to be announced soon.  

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/05/21/human-rights-foundation-uses-2019-oslo-freedom-forum-for-rebranding/

Oslo Freedom Forum

 

Podcast series “Exile Shall Not Silence Us” now complete

August 10, 2020

AfricanDefenders‘ podcast series, “Exile Shall Not Silence Us”, is now complete and fully available for you to listen to. “Exile Shall Not Silence Us” (which I announced on 22 June 2020: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/06/22/exile-shall-not-silence-us/) is a podcast series on the situation of African human rights defenders (HRDs) in exile. The podcast is based on a research that collected the testimonies of more than 120 HRDs and in-depth case studies, and it features interviews with four exiled HRDs. It  highlights the professional, security, socio-economic, and psychosocial challenges of HRDs in exile in Africa, but most of all their achievements and resilience strategies.

Episode#1 gives an overview of the main findings of the research on the situation of African HRDs in exile, with key issues and current trends.

Episode #2 features an anonymous interview with a young woman HRD from Zimbabwe in exile in South Africa. She not only sheds light on the challenges faced by HRDs in and outside Zimbabwe, but also on the complex and painful relationship between exile and motherhood.

Episode#3 explores the challenges HRDs face after returning from exile through an interview with  a formerly exiled Gambian journalist.

Episode #4 explores the challenges and contradictions of internal displacement, as well as the multiple layers of vulnerability faced by HRDs in conflict-ridden areas through an anonymous interview with a Cameroonian woman HRD.

Episode#5 zooms in on Egypt where we speak to an Egyptian HRD in exile in Tunis who tells us about his experience, his hopes, and what he has been learning from Tunisian civil society.

Listen to all the episodes here› <https://app.getresponse.com/click.html?x=a62b&lc=B5QJao&mc=IN&s=9JQZDZ&u=Bl16k&z=Eh2xCOx&>

EXILE SHALL NOT SILENCE US!

 

A journalist recalls the Indemnity bill in Gambia of which he became the victim

July 3, 2020

The government of Yahya Jammeh had orchestrated first an investigative ‘Commission’ and then an ‘‘Indemnity Bill’’ following the breakdown of public order during the student demonstrations’’ of 10-11 April 2000…..Nevertheless, the two most important charges were never independently investigated.  Instead …. the victims were criticised and condemned. Thanks to the ‘‘Bill’’.  [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2012/10/19/how-bad-is-it-in-the-gambia-freedom-radio-has-some-disturbing-quotes/]

Now in a opinion piece of 3 July 2020 Gambian journalist Alhagie Mbye looks back on Yahya Jammeh’s Indemnity Bill that created so much damage:

As a journalist, I followed and covered the whole proceedings both at the ‘‘Commission’’ and outside of it. What was uncovered remained astonishing and shocking. Sadly, some of the ‘‘Commissioners’’ including some respected elites and religious leaders later promoted as heads of his Muslim Council and other lucrative posts remained deplorable and appalling indeed.

Most horrendous was that during the time, the APRC’s representative, refused to answer a single question from the press gallery. It was deliberate act of arrogance, deceit and deception on the part of both the Justice Minister and his boss. Both the local and international press were flabbergasted. The injustice by a Justice Minister will never be forgotten. 

Accordingly, the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders headed by Emmanuel Joof, were fuming. …The Coalition consisting of some of the best lawyers in the country maintained it was ‘‘unconstitutional and cannot be accepted in any civilised society’’.

The opposition parties also openly condemned it in its entirety prompting the National Assembly Members from the opposition side to walk out of the National Assembly in protest. It was a bold move during that crucial time.

...Observers and local human rights activists, including women groups warned that…”the indemnity Bill is untimely provocative, dangerous and unconstitutional”. They called it an ‘‘affront and violation of the county’s own Constitution that give right to citizens to express freely themselves’’. They jointly added that Gambian law ‘‘guarantees everyone to exercise his or her fundamental and basic human rights without interference’’. The international media groups and human rights bodies worldwide were alerted and some of them were absolutely furious but Yahya Jammeh as usual careless about such concerns…

The ambiguous and vague ‘‘Bill’’ also caused the unbelievably curtailing of the rights and freedoms of The Gambian press as well as opposition activities. It brazenly and blatantly downgraded the country’s reputation as well as the respect it earned since independent from Britain as a country of law, peace and stability.

As intended, the ‘‘Bill’’ resulted in several human rights violations with immunity including atrocities committed by reckless National Intelligent Agency (NIA) operatives and the so-called ‘jungler’ officers. Using the ‘‘Bill’’ as a protection and cover against violations, the regime was out to victimise and terrorise the population without any justification. As a result, many innocent citizens got hurt and humiliated. Several men and women maimed. Others lost their lives and livelihoods.

No doubt when I reported on it both in the local and international press, including the brutality of his men against law abiding and innocent citizens including poor farmers and peasants who were totally ignorant of his ‘‘Bill’’, Yahya Jammeh’s revenged was my arrest, detention in confinement at his notorious NIA headquarters in Banjul and brutally tortured me.

Thus, it is startling that today the same accused officers and officials with brutality are still trying to use the same ‘‘Bill’’ as umbrella to outsmart us in our modern courts. But accepting their arguments will be a travesty.

Recently a certain senior politician mocked that people are ‘‘angry’’. Clearly people are right to be angry until justice is seen to be done in favour of the victims of an indescribable and inexpressible human rights violation.

Yahya Jammeh’s ‘‘Indemnity Bill’’ was one of the darkest days of The Gambia. All those involved directly or indirectly should not only bow or hang their heads in shame but be brought to justice as soon as possible.

https://thepoint.gm/africa/gambia/opinion/journalist-alhagie-mbye-revisits-yahya-jammehs-indemnity-bill

see also: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-51082371

The NGO Forum and the 65th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

October 11, 2019

The 65th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights will be held in Banjul, The Gambia from 21 October to 10 November 2019. The African Commission session will be preceded by the NGO Forum and 39th African Human Rights Book Fair, which will take place from 17 to 19 October 2019.​ The ISHR gives a preview:

What will happen during the NGO Forum and 65th ordinary session of the African Commission?

The NGO Forum

Like every year, ahead of this session of the NGO Forum, a training on advocacy particularly focused on regional and international mechanisms will be organised. This year’s training is organised by CIVICUS and will be held from 15 to 21 October 2019. It will consist of three different elements:

  • Advocacy training will be conducted by our partner in The Gambia, from 15 to 17 October
  • Participants will then attend the NGO Forum, which is held ahead of the ordinary sessions of the African Commission
  • The 65th session of the African Commission will open on 21 October and participants will have the opportunity to put the training into practice

The Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the Ordinary Sessions of the African Commission, also known as the ‘NGO Forum’ is an advocacy platform coordinated by the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS) to promote advocacy, lobbying and networking among and between human rights NGOs, for the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa. The NGO Forum shares updates on the human rights situation in Africa by the African and international NGOs community with a view of identifying responses as well as adopting strategies towards the promotion and protection of human rights on the continent.

Issues such as:

  • Resilience strategies and protection of displaced human rights defenders
  • The situation of statelessness in Africa
  • The status of intersex and transgender refugees in Africa
  • The rights of internally displaced people during armed conflicts
  • The use of surveillance technologies to stifle protest, expression and privacy in Africa

The 65th ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

  • Panel discussions
  • The importance of civic space participation in the 2030 and 2063 agendas, 23 October, 9.30 to 11am.
  • Panel on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders with a focus on Protection Laws, 23 October, 3 to 4.30pm

During every session, special mechanisms from the African Commission present their activity report. These reports catalogue the activities and initiatives undertaken by each mechanism inter-sessionally and includes one by the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and Focal Point on Reprisals in Africa. For the full programme, click here.

ISHR will also organise side events, such as Ending intimidation and reprisals against those cooperating with regional mechanisms in Africa on 22 October 2019, 17.30-19.00 in the Kairaba Hotel, Banjul, The Gambia. This side event aims at providing more visibility and clarity on the Special Rapporteur’s mandate on reprisals, to share some lessons learned from efforts to address reprisals and intimidation at the international level, and to hone in on what more can be done at the regional level. In particular, the event will be an opportunity for the Special Rapporteur to share key information on how to engage with the reprisal’s aspect of his mandate through the presentation of the mandate’s working documents in this regard.

Panellists:

  • Remy Ngoy Lumbu, African Commission’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and Focal Point on Reprisals in Africa
  • Michel Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders
  • Clément Voule, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Association and Assembly
  • Madeleine Sinclair, ISHR New York Co-Director and Legal Counsel
  • A woman defender from Sudan

ISHR will monitor and report on key developments at the 65th ordinary session of the African Commission. Follow them on Twitter at @ISHRglobal, @ISHR_fr and at #ACHPR65.

https://www.ishr.ch/news/achpr65-alert-ngo-forum-and-65th-session-african-commission-human-and-peoples-rights

2019 edition of the Africa Shield Awards by AfricanDefenders

June 21, 2019

On 14 June 2019, AfricanDefenders (Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network) awarded distinguished five human rights defenders on the African continent [for more on this and other regional awards, see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/african-human-rights-defenders-shield-awards]The winners are Beatrice Mtetwa, Felix Agbor Aniyor, Donald Deya, Fatou Jagne Senghor, and the Sudan Women Protest. The Shield Awards highlight the positive impact of their outstanding human rights work and their unwelding motivation.
The Shield Awards comprise five sub-regional awards and an overall Africa Shield Award. For this third edition, a jury composed of Hon. Commissioner Soyata Maiga, Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR); Hon. Commissioner Rémy Ngoy, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa; Margaret Sekaggya, former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders; and Hassan Shire, Chairperson of AfricanDefenders, acknowledged that Sudan Women Protest should be granted the overall Africa Shield Award – also the winner of the North African Regional Award. Sudan Women Protest is a community of Sudanese women activists at the frontline of the Sudanese revolution since December 2018 – bringing to the fore women voices and rights. “This is for all the women, mothers, daughters who stood up to mobilise the people and to ensure that their rights are not forgotten – we all stand in solidarity with them,” said Walaa Salah, a Sudanese activist living in Kenya, who received the award on behalf of the community, as the women activists on the ground are immobilised due to the ongoing violence. “I hope I will be able to travel to Sudan, and bring this shield as a testimony to your solidarity.”
Beatrice Mtetwa, Shield Award winner for Southern Africa, is a Zimbabwean human rights lawyer Mtetwa has protected and promoted human rights for years, with a focus on HRDs and journalists, by representing on pro-bono hundreds of HRDs facing harassment and abusive detention in Zimbabwe. As a founding member and board member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), she continues to nurture leaders on the continent who carry her visionary mission of establishing a blue chip human rights lawyer’s organisation in Zimbabwe that has made access to justice for HRDs facing judicial persecution a reality in her home country. “This means a lot, particularly because it comes from my fellow African HRDs,” she said while receiving the award from Sekaggya. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/11/06/human-rights-documentary-beatrice-mtetwa-the-rule-of-law-on-television-and-internet/].
The Central African Shield Award was presented to Felix Agbor Anyior Nkongho, a Cameroonian lawyer and the founder of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa. He has provided pro bono legal services to hundreds of victims. While seeking social justice and equality in the Anglophone region of Cameroon, he was arrested, charged, and tried at a ilitary tribunal for terrorism, rebellion to incite civil war, revolution, contempt against the State, and secession, which carries the death penalty. He was thrown into a cell with 12 alleged members of the Boko Haram terrorist group, later transferred to solitary confinement for 45 days, and was not allowed to attend his father’s funeral. Today, he is documenting and reporting systematic human rights violations committed by both government security forces and the armed separatist groups in the Anglophone region of Cameroon. “We, HRDs, defend the rights of others, so I thank you for protecting us,” he said.
Fatou Jagne Senghor, Executive Director of Article 19 West Africa, received the Shield Award for West Africa for her engagement on freedom of expression and media freedom. The award recognises Senghor’s longstanding human rights work in West Africa in general, and in The Gambia in particular. She plays an important role in regards to ensuring accountability on human rights violations, building the capacity of civil society, and strengthening the reforms in The Gambia. “Freedom of expression is increasingly under attack, and we need defenders like Fatou to protect us,” emphasised George Morara, Commissioner of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, while handing Senghor her shield.Donald Deya received the Shield Award for the East and Horn of Africa sub-region. Deya is an international human rights lawyer who represent and support victims of human rights abuses on the African continent. He represented numerous victims before the ACHPR, , the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the East African Court of Justice, and several national High courts. Deya is also the head of the Secretariat of the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU), chair of the Boards of the Centre for Citizens’ Participation on the African Union (CCPAU) and the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP). He dedicated the award to all African HRDs who suffer from persecution.
Through their human rights work, the awardees have faced harassment, intimidation, arbitrary detention, and even the threat of death – but they have never abandoned their tenacious commitment to human rights protection and promotion. Expressing her appreciation to their efforts, Hon. Maiga said: “I congratulate all the winners for their courage, and acknowledge the risks they take, and their strength that enables them to stand up for the rights of others.”

On a special note, Hassan Shire  presented the Shield of Africa award to Hon. Commissioner Maiga Soyata. This special award is presented by AfricanDefenders to valuable dignitaries  who have demonstrated longstanding contributions to protecting and promoting the rights of African citizens. Hon. Maiga dedicated 12 years of her life to protecting the rights of Africans across the continent, notably promoting the rights of women in Africa through the Maputo Protocol. “This is a coronation for her outstanding role in the protection of the rights of African citizens,’’ said Hassan Shire.

 

 

(ECOWAS) Regional Court of Justice gives historical ruling for media freedom in West Africa

February 15, 2018

On 14 February 2018 the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Regional Court of Justice found that Jammeh-era media laws violated the right to freedom of expression in The Gambia. The Federation of African Journalists and four Gambian journalists filed a case in the court in December 2015. They argued that their rights, including their rights to freedom of expression, had been violated by Gambia through the enforcement of laws criminalising libel, sedition and false news in the country. Two of the journalists were also subject to torture whilst in the custody of the then notorious National Intelligence Agency following their arrests under these laws.

Arguments were heard by the court in October 2016. The case was supported by the Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI). Amnesty International filed an amicus brief in the case along with other freedom of expression organisations. Although press freedom has improved under the new government of President Barrow, who was inaugurated in January 2017, these restrictive laws are still in place.

The ruling will set an important precedent as many countries within West Africa continue to use similar repressive laws to silence freedom of expression, and hinder the vital work of journalists, in violation of international and regional human rights law. The ball is now in the court of the Adama Barrow government to repeal the said laws in order to realign the law to respect media freedoms. Amnesty International’s West Africa researcher has hailed the ruling as a historic day for The Gambian media landscape. “Today is an historic day for Gambia’s journalists and human rights defenders who, for decades, have suffered torture, imprisonment or exile just for exercising their right to freedom of expression,”Sabrina Mahtani said.

(see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/01/17/gambia-yahya-jammehs-ex-minister-continues-his-detention-in-switzerland/)

http://www.africanews.com/2018/02/15/jammeh-era-media-laws-violated-freedom-of-expression-ecowas-court/

African human rights defenders were trained in Banjul on effective monitoring

November 10, 2017

 

Human rights defenders from across Africa were in The Gambia undergoing a three-day training to consolidate their knowledge and skills on relevant human rights instruments for effective monitoring at the continental and international levels. The training on international and regional human rights mechanisms, was held from 25 – 29 October 2017, was organised by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, CIVICUS, ISHR, ACHPR and the United Nations Human Rights Council. The training was held on the margins of the Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 61st Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and 36th African Human Rights Book Fair.

The training was designed to sharpen the knowledge and skills on the procedures for the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa. It was divided into three main parts: the international and the regional systems and mechanisms for the two days, and freedom of association and assembly, the SDGs, and human rights monitoring. Hannah Forster of the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS – http://www.acdhrs.org) said: “This, we believe, will enable us to better understand opportunities available as we engage governments in the fulfillment of their mandates to promote and protect human rights and it will equip us with the knowledge and skills to lobby our governments to domesticate and implement their commitments while assisting participants to frame a strategy as they seek redress for violations of human rights”.

 

Source: African human rights defenders train on effective monitoring – The Point Newspaper, Banjul, The Gambia

Indian star Celina Jaitly shows Erykah Badu the way

May 10, 2014

A few days ago Erykah Badu on Twitter remained obstinate over her scheduled performance in The Gambia. Other bloggers (e.g. http://yafri.ca/erykah-badu-faces-criticism-over-her-performance-for-gambian-president/) are adding to the noise by pointing out that President Jammeh’s regime consistently cracks down on the opposition and the media. In its submission to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Gambia, the human rights organisation, Amnesty International, stated “Since Gambia’s first Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2010, the human rights situation in the country has deteriorated. The government continues to stifle freedom of expression and commit other human rights violations with impunity.” An online campaign has been put in place by web users to enlighten the singer about the Gambian dictator. See Facebook and twitter campaign of disapproval [@fatbellybella]. HOWEVER in the meantime it seems that Erykah Badu has decided NOT to attend Gambia’s much publicized Roots Homecoming Festival. Especially Gambian dissidents based in the United States have repeatedly prevailed on the Grammy winning artist not to attend the festival. ..Interestingly  the singer’s likely absence has angered Gambian artist Gibou Balla Gaye, who goes with the street name Gee.  Perhaps good to note here that Gee is the son of Balla Gaye, Gambia’s former Finance Minister. 

Anyway it is nice to be able to point to better examples, such as Celina Jaitly in India who tackled the taboo of gay relations. The United Nations Free & Equal Campaign published on 29 April 2014 this first-ever Bollywood music video for gay rights, featuring Bollywood star Celina Jaitly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lihVCIFamb0 [sorry you have CONTR/click as the embedding does not work – but worth a view!!].

https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/05/02/erykah-badu-unapologetic-about-her-human-rights-performance-and-plans-to-repeat-in-the-gambia/

http://www.freedomnewspaper.com/Homepage/tabid/36/newsid367/9872/Gee-The-Fake-Ass-Gambian-Artist-Is-Crying-Over-Erykah-Badus-Failure-To-Attend-Gambias-Roots-Homecoming-Festival–/Default.aspx

Erykah Badu unapologetic about her human rights performance and plans to repeat in the Gambia

May 2, 2014

SXSW Film-Interactive-Music - Day 9

(Erykah Badu performs onstage 15 March 2014 in Austin; Roger Kisby—Getty Images)

The misuse of star power by Erykah Badu referred to in an earlier post got a nice follow up according to the opinion piece posted by Thor Halvorssen and Alex Gladstein in TIME of 2 May 2014. After recalling in detail her singing for the Swazi absolute monarch [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/another-case-of-misused-star-power-erykah-badu-performs-for-swaziland-dictator/], the authors describe Badu’s defensive and sometimes offensive comments in the social media: Read the rest of this entry »

Vacancy at Front Line (internship) for African Commission on Human Rights, Banjul

March 30, 2014

The NGO Front Line Defenders has a vacancy for an internship at the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) for 2014-2015, starting on 9 June. The purpose of the Internship is to support the work of the Special Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - croppedRapporteur on Human Rights Defenders at the ACHPR. It is a 12 month position based in Banjul, the Gambia. Compensation is 950 $ per month. The deadline for applications is 18 April 2014. Applications can be sent by email to recruit[at]frontlinedefenders.org.