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SOLDIERS TRAINED TO AVOID HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

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By Omar Bah

The National Human Rights Commission Tuesday commenced a three-day intensive sensitisation workshop for members of the Gambia Armed Forces on international human rights law and handling of sexual and gender-based violence cases.

The training is premised on the findings and recommendations of the TRRC.

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The testimonies before the TRRC and its subsequent findings revealed the existence of a serious gap in knowledge and appreciation of gender equality and human rights principles, norms and values within the security sector, including GAF.

The revelations during some of those harrowing testimonies exposed SGBV against women and young girls being perpetrated from the highest command.

It was therefore recommended that in order to instill a culture of observance of human rights, rule of law and democratic values in a democratic society in The Gambia, there was the need to enhance knowledge and instill gender perspectives and a culture of human rights and respect for rule of law.

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The NHRC, chairman Emmanuel Joof, said the TRRC had recommended and accepted by the government that the NHRC conducts regular training on human rights for officials of the security sector and that necessary steps to review and integrate and update where available human rights into the curricula of the GAF, and to design a course on human rights and the role of the military in a democratic society and most importantly to conduct training on International Humanitarian Law and SGBV.

“The NHRC recognises the paramount importance of ensuring that the guardians of our nation’s security are not only well-equipped to fulfill their duties but also firmly grounded in the principles of human rights and the rule of law. This training therefore represents a significant step towards achieving that goal,” Joof said.

The three-day training, he added, provides participants with a unique opportunity to learn, understand and engage in intensive training sessions led by experts covering a wide range of topics relating to IHL and SGBV which are essential to promoting a culture of respect for human rights within the security sector.

“The sessions are designed to empower participants to become agents of positive change within their respective institutions. As participants return to their roles within the GAF, we sincerely hope that they carry with them a solemn duty—to uphold the principles of human rights and IHL in all their actions and decisions and to also impose on their colleagues the duty to respect and protect the fundamental rights of everyone, and to respect due process and the rule of law,” he said.

In conclusion, Joof added: “We should all reaffirm our shared commitment to the principles of human rights, justice, and equality for all whether we are civilians or members of the security forces. Let us remember that we can all (both civilians and security personnel) fall victims of human rights violations as was evident in the TRRC revelations.”

Alieu Jallow, a representative of the Solicitor General, alluded to the need for instilling a culture of human rights, rule of law and democratic values within The Gambia.

“To achieve that, it is essential to enhance knowledge and incorporate gender perspectives within the Gambia Armed Forces. This approach aims to foster trust, improve relationships and public perception of the security forces, strengthen security-civil cooperation, and prevent the recurrence of gross human rights violations, including gender-based violence, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings,” he said.

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