In the report the Government has extensively and elaborately listed all policies, laws and institutions including programs, projects, activities and budgetary allocations it has created, organised or provided to ensure the protection and fulfilment of human rights. The Government has indeed taken ownership and responsibility for the gaps and challenges in the protection of human rights in the country while also trumpeting its successes and gains.
While it is good that the State did fulfil their reporting obligations it is still concerning that the protection and fulfilment of human rights remains weak in the Gambia simply because the State continues to fail in fully enforcing or implementing the very policies and laws it cited. At the same time public institutions continue to be less effective, less transparent and less responsive in the delivery of public goods and services which is critical in the enjoyment of human rights.
For example, until now public schools, health facilities as well as other public facilities and services such as water and electricity supply are poorly delivered, inadequate and largely unaffordable to most citizens. Until now we still have very many bad laws or provisions that damage the right to free expression, free media, freedom of assembly and right to petition the Government hence severely undermining democracy and good governance. Until now there continues to be arbitrary arrest and detention while prison conditions remain deplorable.
Until now the incidence of corruption and political patronage and abuse of the Constitution which are direct threats to human rights and against the spirit of the African Charter are prevalent at the highest level of the State. Until now social and economic inequality as well as discrimination against women and persons with disability among others remains prevalent in the society.
Until now the Gambia has no domestic legislation protecting the rights of citizens with disability as the Disability Bill is still languishing between the ministries of Justice and Health without anyone showing leadership to put it before the National Assembly for enactment. Meantime the National Assembly itself has also failed to take responsibility to ask for that bill to pass it into law.
Until now women get discriminated at employment simply because companies, organizations and institutions do not wish to fully implement the Women’s Act. The full provisions of the Children’s Act are not implemented while the necessary security sector reform necessary to ensure the protection of human rights also remain undone or half-heartedly done.
These and many more issues regarding this report and human rights protection in the Gambia require that citizens and CSOs access this report to read it carefully and in full in order to begin to engage the Government, National Assembly and our local councils among other stakeholders to ensure actual protection of rights.