By Muhammed Lamin Ceesay
Notably, today’s world numerous atrocities have been committed against the rights of human by states, institutions and even individual – which has resulted to the loss of abundant lives of totally innocent people. This has alerted the United Nations to come up with regulations to safeguard every human being on the globe from being degraded and tortured unjustly. More so, the rules against such offences are stipulated in Article 3 of the UN Charter, which states:
“No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
In light of above provision, the Gambia which is a member state to the United Nation decided to ratify and domesticate the provision in order for the fundamental freedoms of Gambians to be promoted & respected. This law is encapsulated in the 1997 Constitution under chapter IV, pinpointed in section 21. Furthermore, there is need to understand the three key words stipulated in the above mentioned provision, namely: torture, inhuman and degrading treatment.
a) Firstly, torture means when a person deliberately cause drastic and cruel suffering on another, be it physically or mentally. Tortures are most of the time geared towards punishing, intimidating or obtain information from a person.
b) Secondly, inhuman punishment implies harsh chastisement on someone which makes them undergo utmost pain. These are all rooted from physical interrogation; serious physical or psychological abuse in a health or care setting; serious physical assault; barbaric detention conditions and menacing to torture someone, if the threat is real and immediate.
c) Thirdly, degrading treatment means treatments that are extremely humiliating and undignified. Whether the treatment reaches a level that can be defined as degrading depends on a number of factors, which includes: the duration of the treatment, its physical or mental effects and sex, age, vulnerability and health of the victim. This concept is based on the principle of dignity – the natural value of all human beings.
Nonetheless, if anyone is subjected to torture, inhuman treatment and degradation punishment, he/she can go to the courts to make sure that his rights are not infringed but uphold. This is crystal-clearly mentioned in section 37 (1) of the 1997 constitution of the 1997 Constitution of the Gambia, which reads:
“ If any person alleges that any of the provisions of the section 18 to 33 or section 36 (5) of this chapter has been, is being or is likely to be contravened in relation to himself or herself by any person he or she may apply to the High Court for redress.”
In conclusion, let each and every Gambian acknowledge that he/she has the rights not be subjected to torture or inhuman degradation because it is a violation against their fundamental human rights. As a result, they can file an application to the High Court for redress in order for their rights to be safeguarded and uphold – which will go a long way to promote peace, rapid development and huge respect for the rights of another.