The Gambia is perhaps few miles away from being slapped suspended by the Commonwealth, as the body’s People Forum has urged the 2007 Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM) scheduled to take place in the Ugandan capital Kampala to take the country to task on its poor human rights records.
The forum composed of NGOs involved in the protection of the human rights of Commonwealth citizens . Its discussions were dominated by the appalling human rights conditions in the West African country.
Rights activists wondered why so many atrocities, including the executions of more than 50 West African nations, have been committed by the despotic regime of Yahya Jammeh, yet none of the perpetrators has faced justice.
Delegates have jointly condemned gagging of press freedom in The Gambia and Zimbabwe. Yahya Jammeh and Robert Mugabe have been “accused of instigators of atrocities perpetrated against political opponents and should therefore be held accountable.”
The Gambia’s Director of TANGO [Association of NGOs] Ousman Yabo told the Kampala forum that there is little room for NGOs specialising in human rights to operate in the country. He said the country should be forced to respect the treaties and protocols it has signed.
The Regional Director of Commonwealth African Initiative, Ms. Oye Lithur, insisted an investigation into the extra-judicial executions in The Gambia. She characterised the country’s pattern of human rights violation as “deliberate and systematic.”
Delegates also scolded Zimbabwe and Pakistan for upholding values that contradict human rights culture.
It is not clear whether the Gambian leader will grace the Kampala meeting.
Uganda that is hosting CHOGM has also got an axe to grind with Uganda Human Rights Commission that claims to have documented more than 7,500 complaints of torture, cruel or inhuman treatment in the last 10 years.
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