By Omar Bah
The Solicitor General, Cherno Marenah has reaffirmed the Gambia government’s determination and commitment to its human rights obligations “especially the nine human rights treaties the country is signatory to.”
The senior government lawyer made these observations at a periodic reporting training on the Gambia’s international human rights obligations and sharing of best practices organized by his ministry at Ocean Bay Hotel yesterday.
“We are now in the trajectory to become champions in human rights that we have always been known for,” he asserted.
However, Marenah said signing human rights treaties alone is not enough, saying the country is subject to constant review of its human rights practices and developments, adding that it is in this spirit that the Gambia is scheduled to undergo a review of its human rights records for the second time under the Universal Periodic Review in November.
“The Gambia has made tremendous developments since 2014 and after successfully voting out an autocratic regime and replacing it with a democratic government, we are undergoing very rigorous process of transition to democratic governance in this country and lots of developments have been taking place since,” he added.
The report, he added, will highlight the number of improvements Gambia has made in its human rights protection, adding that in 2014 the country has received a number of recommendations which they have fulfilled to a great deal and will happily report back in later this year.
“One of the most important recommendations we received in 2014 was the need to establish a national human rights commission which we have done two months ago with the appointment of the first batch of commissioners. We are also undergoing a constitutional review process which we believe if completed will entrench the basic human rights that we all aspired,” he said.
He said they are also undergoing a criminal code review which is also geared towards ensuring that the country’s national laws are enshrined with its international human rights obligation.
Solicitor General Marenah urged the participants to take the meeting very seriously, urging them to highlight the human rights challenge, find ways and solutions to provide the much needed resource that will help the country meet its challenges, saying the Universal Periodic Review is the most comprehensive human rights review.
The human rights adviser to the Commonwealth Secretariat, Sumedha Ekanayake said the Commonwealth is happy that The Gambia is a party to all the international human rights treaties, saying this shows the country’s commitment to respect human rights.
“We hope participants will work tirelessly to ensure that the Gambia submit its report under the Universal Periodic Review in a timely manner because we want to see the country better prepared for the November quarterly review in 2019 in Geneva,” he added.