By Tabora Bojang
December 10th is celebrated worldwide as Human Rights Day to commemorate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The declaration was adopted by the UN in 1948 to serve as a global standard to protect and promote human rights to all irrespective of gender, race, language, political belief, religious belief, cultural belief or any other status.
As part of events marking 75 years since its declaration, Alliance Francaise de Banjul successfully hosted a round table discussion which brings together national and international stakeholders to amplify and advance the human rights discourse, reflect on past and future actions and responsibilities and to work towards the promotion and protection of human rights in the Gambia to ensure freedom, equality and justice, which is also the theme for this year.
The occasion was graced by the EU Ambassador in Gambia Corrado Pampaloni, French Charge de Affaires Jean-Charles Allard, chairman of the National Human Rights Commission Emmanuel Joof, the Solicitor General of the Gambia Hussein Thomasi, senior human rights advisor UN Resident Coordinator’s office Yvonne Masarakufa, University of the Gambia law students, members of the civil society, and representatives of various segments of the society.
The event featured an interactive dialogue with the panelist on human rights issues in the Gambia, democratic gains, transitional justice programs, security and institutional reforms, achievements and contemporary challenges in promoting and protecting the rights of women, children, and marginalized groups including persons with disabilities.
Solicitor General, Thomasi who was the keynote speaker in the panel outlined national efforts to promote, uphold and consolidate human rights, democracy and good governance in the Gambia.
He said the establishment of the Human Rights Commission, a constitutional review commission, truth and relics commission, the creation of the office of the national security adviser, reforms in the Judiciary among others attested the gains made by the government since the end of dictatorship in 2017.
He pledged that the government will continue to partner with key national and international partners such as the EU to further cement democratic gains, address social inequalities, and ensure a positive environment that guarantees the rights of all.
The chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, said the UDHR provides an opportunity for duty bearers, human rights bodies, civil society, citizens and every stakeholder to reflect on the progress achieved in human rights advancement and rededicate to the pursuit of a world where every individual enjoys dignity, justice, and freedom.
Achieving this noble goal, he added demands collective action, unwavering commitment, and a recognition that the promotion and protection of human rights are not merely legal obligations but moral imperatives.
Mr Joof reaffirmed the commission’s commitment to boost human rights standards in The Gambia and to nurture a culture of respect for rights and freedoms guaranteed by the rule of law.
The senior human rights advisor at the UN Resident Coordinator’s office Yvonne Masarakufa, underscored the need for a more meaningful participation and inclusion for consistently marginalized groups such as person’s with disabilities and avail them equal opportunities, capacity building, social protection and access to employment. “We need to find ways so that they can feel the are equal to any member of the society,” she added.
Speaking to The Standard on the sidelines of the event, EU Ambassador to the Gambia, Corrado Pampaloni described the discussions as productive, touching on issues that are under scrutiny in the Gambia.
He said Gambia’s democratic efforts have been pleasing with encouraging strides in the promotion and protection of free speech, autonomous judiciary, civic participation and divergent press among others.
“The strides have been big but there’s still a lot to do.”