The statement sent to this newspaper, read: “The Government of the Republic of The Gambia congratulates the Government of The United States of America for the removal of The Gambia from the list of eligible sub-Saharan African countries under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which Act The Gambia has never benefitted from in the first place, since a US Presidential Proclamation designated the country as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country on March, 28 2003.
“Furthermore, in light of remarks in interviews and statements in the local media made by the charge d’affaires of the US Embassy in Banjul, it has now become unequivocally clear that the Government of the United States has no good intentions for the people of The Gambia. Consequently and bound by an unshakeable faith in the Almighty Allah alone, it should be clear that the dignified people of The Gambia will not succumb to outside pressures of any kind nor from any source, for, the well-being of her people remains paramount for the Government of The Gambia.”
The US presidential proclamation on Tuesday said The Gambia, along with South Sudan and Swaziland, failed to meet conditions (to remain on the AGOA list) without specifying them.
The US National Security Council recently voiced concern over The Gambia’s moves to block access to UN human rights investigators and enact new laws against homosexuality.
On 28 March 2003, US president, George Bush designated The Gambia as a beneficiary of AGOA in Proclamation 7657. In this past Tuesday’s proclamation, President Barack Obama stated: “I have determined that South Sudan and The Gambia are not making continual progress in meeting the requirements described in section 506A(a)(1) of the 1974 Act. Accordingly, I have decided to terminate the designation of South Sudan and The Gambia as beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries for purposes of section 506A of the 1974 Act, effective on January 1, 2015.”
Following the ouster of The Gambia from AGOA, Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest civil rights organisation working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, commended the Obama Administration for “taking concrete action against the Gambian government following recent human rights abuses in the country, which include the vicious targeting of LGBT people and a new law that could send some LGBT Gambians to prison for life”.
Jean Freedberg, deputy director of HRC Global, posited: “This decision is an important first step in sending a clear signal to President Yayha Jammeh and his associates about their human rights record, and they cannot be allowed to trample on the rights of LGBT Gambians. The United States government should not move forward with business as usual with The Gambia when LGBT people are harassed, imprisoned, tortured, or even killed because of who they are.”]]>