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» 09.02.2011 - African dreams of Egypt-like revolt
» 04.03.2010 - Africa media development projects awarded funding
» 21.10.2009 - Eritrea is the bottom last in Press Freedom Index 2009
» 23.03.2009 - Two African states among the highest with impunity
» 14.01.2009 - AI blames prolonged Zim crisis on AU
» 02.05.2008 - Equatorial Guinean leader tops Africa's media predators
» 20.02.2008 - Africa needs value-based journalism
» 29.01.2008 - 'Respect good governance'

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Africa | Gambia
Human rights

"Strip Gambia off AU human rights body"

afrol News, 3 November - The world's major association of human rights organisations has called on the African Union (AU) to consider moving the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) from its headquarters in The Gambia, as it is now impossible for human rights groups to participate in sessions there.

The International Federation Leagues of Human Rights (FIDH), an umbrella organisation grouping human rights groups from all over the world, today in a statement said it did not dear to participate in the upcoming session of the ACHPR, to be held in its Banjul headquarters 11-25 November. FIDH feared for the safety of its delegates due to the hostile climate in The Gambia.

The human rights league quoted Gambian President Yahya Jammeh's infamous 21 September television speech, where he threatened to kill all those who seek to sabotage or to destabilise his government, including all defenders of human rights and all their supporters.

FIDH said it could not send delegates to the AU's human rights body under such circumstances. The league said it was "not acceptable for a president with impunity threatening to undermine the physical integrity of human rights defenders."

For years, human rights conditions in The Gambia had been "deteriorating", FIDH pointed out. Under President Jammeh's increasingly dictatorial regime, where many are questioning the psychic health of the Gambian leader, a growing number of journalists and human rights activists have been imprisoned, tortured and even killed.

FIDH in a statement said it was "indeed deeply concerned by the very hostile environment in which human rights defenders and journalists operate in The Gambia, where obstacles to freedom of expression, arrests, arbitrary detentions, killings and judicial harassment against them are recurring."

Now, the human rights league calls on the AU to take action to defend the credibility of its own human rights body. The hostility asserted against defenders of human rights was directly contrary to the Headquarters Agreement between the AU and The Gambia, FIDH points out. This "strongly affects the credibility of this body," the League says.

FIDH called on the Gambian President to "reconsider his remarks and publicly declare his support for the work of human rights defenders." The agreement with the AU to host the ACHPR obliged Gambian authorities to guarantee the physical and legal safety of human rights defenders, FIDH recalled.

The human rights league urged the AU to put pressure on The Gambia by condemning President Jammeh's threats. FIDH called on the AU to "consider the possibility of transferring the seat of the ACHPR to a member state that guarantees the respect of fundamental freedoms of expression, association, demonstration or opinion in order to allow the activists who wish to attend sessions of the ACHPR to express themselves openly and without fear."

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