THE GAMBIA
Republic of The Gambia
Republic of The Gambia
Joined United Nations:  21 September 1965
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
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Updated 13 January 2013
CAPITAL
POPULATION
CHIEF OF STATE
SELECTION PROCESS
Banjul
1,840,454 (July 2012 est.)
President elected by popular vote for a five-year term (no term
limits); election last held 24 November 2011;  Note: from 1994 to
1996 Jammeh was chairman of the Junta

Next scheduled election: 2016
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT
SELECTION PROCESS
According to The Gambia Constitution, the President is both the
Chief of State and Head of Government
DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
ETHNIC GROUPS
African 99% (Mandinka 42%, Fula 18%, Wolof 16%, Jola 10%, Serahuli 9%, other 4%), non-African 1%
RELIGIONS
Muslim 90%, Christian 9%, indigenous beliefs 1%
GOVERNMENT
STRUCTURE
Republic with 5 divisions and 1 city; Legal system is based on a composite of English common law, Islamic law, and customary law;
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations
Executive: President elected by popular vote for a five-year term (no term limits); election last held 24 November 2011 (next to be
held in 2016)
Legislative: Unicameral National Assembly (53 seats; 48 members elected by popular vote, 5 appointed by the president; to serve
five-year terms)
elections: last held 29 March 2012 (next to be held in 2017)
Judicial: Supreme Court
LANGUAGES
English (official), Mandinka, Wolof, Fula, other indigenous vernaculars
BRIEF HISTORY
Modern-day The Gambia was once part of the Ghana and Songhai Empires. The first written accounts of the region come from
records of Arab traders in the 9th and 10th centuries AD, who established the trans-Saharan trade route for slaves, gold, and ivory.
In the 15th century, the Portuguese took over this trade using maritime routes. At that time, The Gambia was part of the Mali
Empire. In 1588, the claimant to the Portuguese throne, Antonio, Prior of Crato, sold exclusive trade rights on The Gambia River to
English merchants; this grant was confirmed by letters patent from Queen Elizabeth I. In 1618, King James I granted a charter to a
British company for trade with The Gambia and the Gold Coast (now Ghana). Between 1651 and 1661 part of Gambia was
(indirectly) a colony of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth; it was purchased by the Courlandish prince Jakub Kettler. At that time
Courland, in modern-day Latvia, was a fiefdom of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Courlanders settled on James Island,
which they called St. Andrews Island and used as a trade base from 1651 until its capture by the English in 1661. During the late
17th and throughout the 18th century, England and France constantly struggled for political and commercial supremacy in the
regions of the Senegal and Gambia Rivers. The 1783 Treaty of Paris gave Great Britain possession of The Gambia, but the French
retained a tiny enclave at Albreda on the north bank of the river, which was ceded to the United Kingdom in 1857. As many as 3
million slaves may have been taken from the region during the three centuries that the transatlantic slave trade operated. It is not
known how many slaves were taken by Arab traders prior to and simultaneous with the transatlantic slave trade. Most of those
taken were sold to Europeans by other Africans; some were prisoners of intertribal wars; some were sold because of unpaid debts,
while others were kidnapped. Slaves were initially sent to Europe to work as servants until the market for labor expanded in the
West Indies and North America in the 18th century. In 1807, slave trading was abolished throughout the British Empire, and the
British tried unsuccessfully to end the slave trade in The Gambia. They established the military post of Bathurst (now Banjul) in
1816. In the ensuing years, Banjul was at times under the jurisdiction of the British Governor General in Sierra Leone. In 1888, The
Gambia became a separate colonial entity. An 1889 agreement with France established the present boundaries, and The Gambia
became a British Crown Colony, divided for administrative purposes into the colony (city of Banjul and the surrounding area) and
the protectorate (remainder of the territory). The Gambia received its own executive and legislative councils in 1901 and gradually
progressed toward self-government. A 1906 ordinance abolished slavery. During World War II, Gambian troops fought with the
Allies in Burma. Banjul served as an air stop for the U.S. Army Air Corps and a port of call for Allied naval convoys. U.S.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt stopped overnight in Banjul en route to and from the Casablanca Conference in 1943, marking the
first visit to the African Continent by an American president while in office. After WWII, the pace of constitutional reform increased.
Following general elections in 1962, full internal self-governance was granted in the following year. The Gambia achieved
independence on February 18, 1965 as a constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth. Shortly thereafter, the government
held a referendum proposing that an elected president replace the British monarch as head of state. The referendum failed to receive
the two-thirds majority required to amend the constitution, but the results won widespread attention abroad as testimony to The
Gambia's observance of secret balloting, honest elections, and civil rights and liberties. On April 24, 1970, The Gambia became a
republic within the Commonwealth, following a second referendum, with Prime Minister Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, as head of
state. Until a military coup in July 1994, The Gambia was led by President Jawara, who was re-elected five times. The relative
stability of the Jawara era was shattered first by a coup attempt in 1981. The coup was led by Kukoi Samba Sanyang, who, on two
occasions, had unsuccessfully sought election to Parliament. After a week of violence which left several hundred people dead,
Jawara, in London when the attack began, appealed to Senegal for help. Senegalese troops defeated the rebel force. In the
aftermath of the attempted coup, Senegal and The Gambia signed the 1982 Treaty of Confederation. The Senegambia
Confederation came into existence; it aimed eventually to combine the armed forces of the two states and to unify their economies
and currencies. The Gambia withdrew from the confederation in 1989. In July 1994, Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh led a coup d'état that
deposed the Jawara government. Between 1994 and 1996, Jammeh ruled as head of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council
(AFPRC) and banned opposition political activity. The AFPRC announced a transition plan for a return to democratic civilian rule,
establishing the Provisional Independent Electoral Commission (PIEC) in 1996 to conduct national elections. After a constitutional
referendum (in August), presidential and parliamentary elections were held. Jammeh was sworn into office as president on
November 6, 1996. The following year, the PIEC transformed into the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on April 17.
Jammeh has won both the 2001 and 2006 elections. He won the re-election in 2011
with 83% turnout monitored by the African
Union
. China cut ties with The Gambia in 1995 after the latter recognized Taiwan as an independent state. The Gambia accepted a
non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council from 1998 to 1999.
Source: Wikipedia: History of The Gambia
ECONOMIC OVERVIEW
The Gambia has sparse natural resource deposits and a limited agricultural base, and relies in part on remittances from workers
overseas and tourist receipts. About three-quarters of the population depends on the agricultural sector for its livelihood and the
sector provides for about one-third of GDP. The agricultural sector has untapped potential - less than half of arable land is
cultivated. Small-scale manufacturing activity features the processing of peanuts, fish, and hides. The Gambia's natural beauty and
proximity to Europe has made it one of the larger markets for tourism in West Africa, boosted by government and private sector
investments in eco-tourism and upscale facilities. In 2011 tourism contributed about one-fifth of GDP but suffered from the
European economic downturn. The Gambia's re-export trade accounted for almost 80% of goods exports. Unemployment and
underemployment rates remain high; economic progress depends on sustained bilateral and multilateral aid, on responsible
government economic management, and on continued technical assistance from multilateral and bilateral donors. International
donors and lenders continue to be concerned about the quality of fiscal management and The Gambia's debt burden.
Source: CIA World Factbook (select The Gambia)
POLITICAL CLIMATE
Before the coup d'état in July 1994, The Gambia was one of the oldest existing multi-party democracies in Africa. It had conducted
freely contested elections every 5 years since independence. After the military coup, politicians from deposed President Jawara's
People's Progressive Party (PPP) and other senior government officials were banned from participating in politics until July 2001.
The People's Progressive Party (PPP), headed by former president Jawara, had dominated Gambian politics for nearly 30 years.
The last elections under the PPP regime were held in April 1992.

Following the coup, a presidential election took place in September 1996, in which retired Col. Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh won 56% of
the vote. The legislative elections held in January 1997 were dominated by the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction
(the new incarnation of AFPRC), which captured 33 out of 45 seats. In July 2001, the ban on Jawara-era political parties and
politicians was lifted. Four registered opposition parties participated in the 18 October 2001, presidential election, which the
incumbent, President Yahya Jammeh, won with almost 53% of the votes. The APRC maintained its strong majority in the National
Assembly in legislative elections held in January 2002, particularly after the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP)
boycotted the legislative elections.

On the 21st and22 March 2006, amid tensions preceding the 2006 presidential elections, an alleged planned military coup was
uncovered. President Yahya Jammeh was forced to return from a trip to Mauritania, many suspected army officials were arrested,
and prominent army officials, including the army chief of staff, fled the country. There are claims circulating that this whole event was
fabricated by the President incumbent for his own devious purposes - however the veracity of these claims is not known, as no
corroborating evidence has as yet been brought forward. It is doubtful whether the full truth will ever be known however, as anyone
with any evidence would not be likely to come forward with it in light of the poor human rights record of the National Intelligence
Agency, and their well-known penchant for torturing and detaining indefinitely anyone who speaks up against the Government.

He won the re-election in 2011 with 83% turnout monitored by the African Union.
Source: Wikipedia: Politics of The Gambia
INTERNATIONAL
DISPUTES
Attempts to stem refugees, cross-border raids, arms smuggling, and other illegal activities by separatists from southern Senegal's
Casamance region, as well as from conflicts in other west African states
U.S. State Department
United Nations Human
Rights Council
Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch
Freedom House
REFUGEES AND
INTERNALLY
DISPLACED PERSONS
(IDPS)
Refugees (country of origin): 8,359 (Senegal) (2011)
ILLICIT DRUGS
None reported
Pambazuka
U. S. STATE
DEPARTMENT
HUMAN RIGHTS STATEMENTS, ANALYSIS AND CRITIQUES
2011 Human Rights Reports: The Gambia
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
20
11 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
May
25, 2012

The Gambia is a multiparty democratic republic. On November 25, voters reelected President Alhaji Yahya Jammeh to a fourth term in a
peaceful, orderly election that was neither free nor fair. President Jammeh’s party, the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and
Construction (APRC), continued to dominate the political landscape. There were instances in which elements of the security forces
acted independently of civilian control.

The most serious human rights problem in the country was the government’s harassment and abuse of its critics, which resulted in a
muzzled press and the death, torture, arrest and detention, and sometimes enforced disappearance, of citizens.

Other human rights problems included poor prison conditions; denial of due process, prolonged pretrial detention, and incommunicado
detention; restrictions on privacy and freedoms of speech, press, and assembly; violence against women and girls, including female
genital mutilation; forced child marriage; trafficking in persons; child prostitution; discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and
transgender (LGBT) individuals; and child labor.

The government sometimes took steps to prosecute or punish officials who committed abuses; however, impunity was a problem.
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UNITED NATIONS
HUMAN RIGHTS
COUNCIL
Gambia executions an unfortunate setback for human rights protection -- Pillay
GENEVA (30 August 2012)

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Thursday she was deeply disturbed that after 27 years without any
official executions in the Gambia, nine death row inmates were killed by firing squad in an unfortunate setback for human rights
protection in the country.

“The Gambia has, for almost three decades, been one of the increasing number of states that did not practice capital punishment – until
this sudden, grave, unfortunate change of course,” Pillay said. “The confusion and lack of transparency for several days over whether
the executions actually took place, and accompanying uncertainty about the identity of those executed, is unacceptable, particularly for
the family members of those killed. Secretly executing individuals without informing their families amounts to inhuman treatment.”

“The statement by President Yahya Jammeh that all remaining death sentences would be carried out by mid-September is extremely
worrying, and raises serious questions about the motivation behind the sudden rush to execute. A further statement by the Ministry of
the Interior, which seeks to justify the change of policy, is seriously misguided,” Pillay added.

“I urgently call on the President and relevant authorities in the Gambia to heed all the international, regional and local calls on the
Government not to carry out further executions.”

Pillay also noted that major concerns have been raised about the fairness of the trials of some of those who have been sentenced to
death. She warned that international law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the Gambia has
ratified, requires compliance with the most rigorous fair trial standards in cases where death sentences are imposed.

She also noted that in 2010 the Gambia reaffirmed its moratorium on the death penalty when it reported to the Human Rights Council for
its Universal Periodic Review, and as recently as April 2011 officially abolished the death penalty for drug offences, in accordance with
international standards.

“I urge the Gambia to immediately stem this regression in human rights protection, and to impose an official moratorium, effective
immediately, on the use of the death penalty,” Pillay said. “The moratorium that was in place for the past quarter of a century was
something the country could be proud of, and was respected for.”
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FREEDOM HOUSE
Freedom In The World 2012 Report
Political Rights Score:
6
Civil Liberties Score: 5
Status: Partly Free

Overview
President Yayha Jammeh secured an extension of his 17-year rule by winning his fourth term in office in the November 2011 election.
The Economic Community of Western Africa States criticized the electoral environment as not conducive to free and fair elections and
refused to send observers. The government continued to intimidate and persecute journalists, the political opposition, and civil society
groups throughout the year.


Jammeh has drawn criticism for his erratic statements and behavior. Between 2007 and 2009 he claimed that he could personally cure
HIV/AIDS using traditional herbs, threatened decapitation for any homosexuals who remained in the country, and warned against
causing instability through human rights activism. Jammeh threatened to withhold government services to voters who failed to support
him in the 2011 presidential election, while declaring that neither coups nor elections could remove him from power as he had been
installed by God.

In the run-up to the November 24 presidential poll, the government-controlled Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) installed a new
biometric voter registration system, though it stated that 1,897 voters had nonetheless registered at least twice. The IEC failed to share
the electoral register with opposition parties, shortened the campaign period from four weeks to eleven days, and barred opposition
parties from campaigning via national media or holding political assemblies. Meanwhile, clashes between supporters of the opposition and
the APRC during the campaign period resulted in three deaths. Jammeh secured his fourth term as president with 72 percent of the vote;
opposition parties rejected the results as fraudulent. In a landmark move, the 15-member state Economic Community of West African
States (ECOWAS) refused to send election observers, citing the lack of an environment conducive to holding free and fair elections,
including government intimidation of voters and the opposition.

The Gambia has increasingly become a transit point for drug shipments from South and Central America. In 2010, the National
Assembly voted to introduce the death penalty for possession of more than 250 grams of cocaine or heroin; however, the law was
repealed in April 2011, since the constitution forbids the death penalty for crimes other than aggravated or premeditated murder. In 2011,
eight foreign nationals were sentenced to 50 years in prison for trafficking narcotics, and the EU began talks with The Gambia on
conducting joint operations to combat drug trafficking.

The Gambia is not an electoral democracy. The 2011 presidential election was marred by voter intimidation and government control of
the media. The president is elected by popular vote for unlimited five-year terms. Of the 53 members of the unicameral National
Assembly, 48 are elected by popular vote, with the remainder appointed by the president; members serve five-year terms.

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AMNESTY
INTERNATIONAL
21 December 2012
The Gambia: Government Must Stop Intimidation and Harassment of Human Rights
Defenders, Journalists, Lawyers and
Government Critics
Joint statement by ARTICLE 19, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and
Amnesty International

After a new wave of arrests, Amnesty International, ARTICLE 19 and the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative strongly urge the
Gambian government to immediately stop its crackdown on human
rights defenders, journalists, government critics, lawyers and anyone
who dares to speak out against
the government or its policies.

Since the beginning of December, at least nine cases of arbitrary arrest and illegal detention have been documented. The government
continues to instil fear and use intimidation through arbitrary
arrests and detention with the purpose of stifling expression and dissenting
voices. The abuse of
office by those in power is also a worrying practice. Several high profile individuals have recently been targeted
and arrested either without charge or based on questionable charges; detained for
longer than the constitutionally allowed period without
being brought before a court; or released on
onerous bail conditions and ordered to report daily to the security forces without any
evidence or
indication that a crime has been committed.

Mambury Njie, a former government minister, was arrested on 31 October and held in detention until 5 November when he was released
on bail. On 14 December, after reporting to the police as
per his bail conditions, Mambury Njie, was taken to court and charged with
economic crimes and
abuse of office. He was remanded in custody at Mile II Prison. In court, Mambury Njie did not have legal
representation and he was not informed of his right to a lawyer. The magistrate court did not
have the jurisdiction to hear the case. No
further details have been made available to him or his
lawyer as to the specifics of the crime(s) he is alleged to have committed. Lawyers
filed a request
for bail on 18 December and the matter will be heard in court on Monday 24 December.

Mambury Njie had previously been arrested on 31 October by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and kept for one night before he
was transferred to police custody. He was kept in police custody
for four days until he was released on bail. His detention at that time
exceeded the maximum 72
hours allowed for detention without being brought before a court and his family was not made aware of the
reason for arrest. It is reported that Mambury Njie, while serving as Minister of Foreign
Affairs, was opposed to orders in August to
execute death row inmates. On 23 August, the same day
nine death row inmates were taken from their cells and executed shortly
thereafter, Mambury Njie
was transferred to the Ministry of High Education, Research, Science and Technology. Only a few days later,
he was relieved from the President’s cabinet.


On 3 December two NIA officers arrested Imam Baba Leigh and no one has seen him since. He is therefore at risk of enforced
disappearance as well as torture or other ill-treatment. Many believe his arrest is linked to his public condemnation of the execution of the
nine inmates at Mile II prison in August. Baba Leigh called the executions “un-Islamic” and urged the government to return the bodies to
the families for proper burial. His family and lawyer have made repeated attempts to visit him at the NIA headquarters in Banjul where he
is believed to be held but no one has been allowed access. It has now been 18 days since Baba Leigh was arrested and detained
incommunicado.

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HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Human Rights Watch Statement to the General Debate of the International Criminal Court’s Eleventh Assembly of States
Parties
November 26, 2012

Your Excellencies,

Thank you for the opportunity to address this eleventh session of the Assembly of States Parties.

It has been 10 years since the entry into force of the Rome Statute, the treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC). In July 2002—
far quicker than had been anticipated and only four years after the treaty’s adoption in Rome—the ICC’s 60th member country ratified
the treaty, paving the way for the court to get down to work adjudicating crimes of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

A decade on, the treaty’s membership has more than doubled, with 121 member countries. Its second prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda from
The Gambia, took office in June 2012, inheriting a sizeable caseload of investigations in seven countries. Even as the ICC’s reach
remains too limited—the United States, China, and Russia have remained outside the system and have used their influence to shield allies
from the court’s jurisdiction—for many communities affected by mass atrocities, “The Hague” has increasingly come to represent the
last, best hope for justice.

This is an achievement worth celebrating, and this anniversary has been fittingly marked by states parties at the outset of this Assembly
session. The most fitting tribute is renewed commitment to the mission of the ICC and to seeing the effective implementation of its
mandate in practice.

The court’s first decade has not been an easy one, and it has, at times, disappointed expectations of the world’s only permanent criminal
court. It is also facing challenges not present at its founding, in particular, global economic conditions that are reducing the priority and
resources afforded to international justice. This will likely place new obstacles in the court’s way as it seeks to improve its performance
while more fully realizing its mandate. In addition, in spite of its growing membership and the commitment of many states parties, the
consistent public and diplomatic support necessary for the court to carry out its judicial mandate without interference has not fully
materialized.

And yet the need for the court is clearer with every passing year. We repeat the call we made at last year’s Assembly session: The
Security Council should refer the situation in Syria to the court. We look to the 121 members of this Assembly, a treaty body pledged to
limiting impunity for crimes that shock the conscience of humankind, to make your governments’ voices heard by the Security Council.

As the court enters its second decade, each component of the Rome Statute system—including court officials and staff, states parties,
and the Assembly of States Parties—will need to heighten their efforts to ensure that the ICC can meet its founders’ aspirations and the
expectations of victims around the world.We welcome in this regard discussions on the relationship between the United Nations (UN)
Security Council and the ICC and we ask states to commit to continue to evolve this dialogue in order to strengthen Council practices on
court referrals.
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OFFICIAL
GOVERNMENT HUMAN
RIGHTS STATEMENT
STATEMENT BY H.E. THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF WOMEN'S AFFAIRS AJA DR ISATOU NJIE-SAIDY
ON THE OCCASION OF
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY
THURSDAY 8TH MARCH 2012

Fellow Gambians, Fellow Women,

This year, the UN global theme for the celebration is, "connecting girls, thus inspiring futures"; this theme, is very important because it
calls for involving, educating, and inspiring girls, of all works of life, to reach their full potentials, and enjoy an equally fulfilling life and
future.

Taking cognizance of the current global economic crisis, which have had its effects on employment and poverty, young people,
particularly girls, are most affected, and this could make many, vulnerable to social hazards, particularly HIV/AIDS and sexually
transmitted diseases and other infections, abuse, trafficking and exploitation, among others.

These call for concerted efforts by state institutions, and the private sector partners, to connect girls, economically, politically, socially,
and especially, empower them through education and skills development to have a better, and inspiring future. This would also help
address health concerns, and wellbeing, of present and future women.


The importance of addressing gender equality, equity and empowerment of women, for national, economic and social development, and
the need for increased attention, to rural women's rights, and the important roles that they play, in agriculture, food security and poverty
eradication, are particularly recognized, and highlighted, in the National Gender and Women Empowerment Policy 2010-2020, and the
Women's Act 2010, which specifically states, that every Government Agency, organ, body, authority, public or private institution or
enterprise, individual or community shall:

(1) Take into account the particular problems faced by rural women, and the significant roles, rural women play, in the economic
survival of their families, including work, in the informal, non-monetized sectors, of the economy, which is not sometimes recognized or
appreciated even in the application of the provisions, of this Act, to women in rural areas.

(2) Take all appropriate measures, to eliminate discrimination against women, in the rural areas, in order to ensure, on a basis of equality,
between men and women, that they participate in, and benefit from rural development projects.

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THE GAMBIA OFFICE OF
THE OMBUDSMAN
Burning Issues
OMBUDSMAN COMPLAINS OF INADEQUATE FUNDS
Published on Thursday, 29 November 2012

The annual activity report and audited financial statement of the Ombudsman of The Gambia, on Tuesday has revealed that the
institution's decentralization programme across the country has slowed down mainly because of inadequate funding and lack of human
resources.

"The mandate of the Ombudsman is an uphill task which requires professionals, lawyers, experts etc. Our main constraints are financial,
material and human resources", asserted Alhaji B. Sowe, the Ombudsman.

Mr. Sowe made this revelation in his presentation before the Joint Session of the Public Accounts and Enterprises Committees PAC/PEC
of the National Assembly. He revealed that the Office of the Ombudsman currently comprises two main units namely, the investigation
Unit which is functional; and the Human Rights Unit, which needs to be rejuvenated. He said they have set up two offices in the
provinces which have not been according to plan. He said the existing offices upcountry are grappling with problems mainly lack of
offices and quarters of their own.

"The Ombudsman's Office should not be seen to depend on another institution for such a situation can create wrong impression in the
minds of the people", he pointed out.

The Ombudsman lamented about the inadequate capacity to send staff on specialized training. He said his office continues to collaborate
with the Personnel Management Office (PMO) to benefit from training. He said a number of his staff benefitted from short-term
professional development courses.

"There is still need to further build capacity in the area of staff training to Master's level, especially our principal investigators", he
disclosed.

Mr. Sowe revealed that a total of 42 complaints were registered in the main office in the year 2011 of which 13 cases were satisfactorily
resolved in favour of complainants, nine dismissed, 12 discontinued, two sub judice, and six pending. He said 21 and 10 complaints were
also registered in Basse and Mansakonko offices respectively.

"The institutions with the highest number of complaints were the Gambia Prisons Service, Inspector General of Police, and Ministry of
Basic and Secondary Education", he added.

However, Mr. Ibrahima Sanyang, the Senior Compliance Officer at the Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA), said the Office
of the Ombudsman was found to be non-compliant with the Public Procurement Act and Regulations during the year under review. He
said the office has given contracts to suppliers who were not registered with the Authority. He said many of the recommendations made
to the Ombudsman were not implemented.
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PAMBAZUKA
The Gambia: Exposing the good, the bad and the lack of media freedom
2012-11-05, Issue 604
http://pambazuka.org/en/category/media/85231

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 4 2012 (IPS) - Pansy Tlakula, the African Union’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to
Information, has done her best to address the continued harassment of journalists in the Gambia.

In her role as commissioner of the African Commission on Human Peoples’ Rights, she has appealed many times to the government of
the West African nation to respect people’s right to freedom of expression.

“I have written several letters to the government with regard to the recent arrest of journalists – the government is now tired of my
letters. We have done everything possible to highlight the issue in the Gambia and other African countries,” she told IPS.

But it has not been enough to prevent the Gambian government’s crackdown on the media.


In September, the government arrested two journalists and shut down their newspapers, The Standard and The Daily News, as they had
extensively covered opposition to the government’s execution of nine death row inmates.

In June, the country’s former Minister of Information and Communications Amadou Scattred Janneh and three others were arrested for
printing and distributing T-shirts that called for an end to the dictatorship in the Gambia.

Janneh, who is also a U.S. citizen, had been charged with treason and jailed for life and was only released after U.S. civil rights activist
Reverend Jesse Jackson intervened.

Tlakula said that the African Commission on Human Peoples’ Rights had taken up Janneh’s case with the Economic Community of West
African States.

“But unfortunately the Gambia has not ratified the protocol establishing the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and we cannot
take them to the court,” she said.

But the failure with the Gambia has not curbed Tlakula’s passion to ensure media freedom on the continent. Recently, she took the
unprecedented step of instructing African governments to establish independent media regulatory bodies, saying that politicians and
governments have no business owning the media.

Tlakula, who is an advocate of the South African High Court, a former member of the South African Human Rights Commission and
current chairperson of the country’s Independent Electoral Commission, wants to see legal conditions implemented in Africa that allow
journalists the freedom to do their jobs.

Excerpts of the interview follow:

Q: What role should journalists play in Africa?

A: Journalists have to expose corruption, criminal activity and all the bad things on the continent, but at the same time we also have to
expose good things happening on our continent because this is our home.

We can’t expose only the bad things to the world about what’s happening in Africa. We have to take our destiny in our hands and tell
our own stories as Africans as we see them and experience them and not let other people tell our stories.

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Report
Yahya A. J. J. Jammeh
President since 18 October 1996
Isatou Njie-Saidy
Vice President since 20 March 1997
TRAFFICKING IN
PERSONS
None reported
Yahya A. J. J. Jammeh
President since 18 October 1996