“If we see problems, we have an obligation to identify them. It may be seen as criticism but I think the way it should be looked at is that it is a potential area of cooperation. I have suggested to the officials of the Gambia Government that we should sit down together; the representatives of Government of The Gambia and United States, to discuss those areas that we identified and which need attention,” Mr Arietti, a career foreign service officer who served as ambassador to Rwanda, dilated when asked to comment on the recently released ‘US 2013 Human Rights Report’ which highlighted rights issues in The Gambia.

He explained that the reports are mandated by the US Congress and periodically look at all the states in the world. “This is not something only for The Gambia and countries in Africa. We do it for everybody; we do it for France; we do it for Japan, we do it for Brazil. In that, we try to evaluate the degree to which the country is meeting its international [human rights] standards, not American standards, for the protection and promotion of human rights. 

“We feel that it is critical for human rights standards to be set by the Government of The Gambia; and legislations are respected and protected.  And that really is what we try to do; we see it as a cooperative programme not a programme that is only intended to criticise,” he maintained. 


Asked what areas the US intend to work with The Gambia in relation to the 2013 Annual Human Right Report, Ambassador Arietti said: “Number one, it first requires an agreement on the side of the Government of The Gambia to have this type of cooperation with us. I think we can look at areas like administration of justice. I have worked in many other African countries, and one of the most productive programmes we have is police training because sometimes you hear reports of abuses by police which might not be intended but require training. 

“And we have many programmes where we can work with the police force to improve professionalism of the police. The same can be true for the court systems.  There is a real challenge in the management of the court system. You have cases where people are accused of crimes and it takes very long time for courts to deal with that. So this is a matter of efficiency and may be, computerisation of some of these programmes  [will help]. I think there is a lot in our scope for cooperation… but it will require willingness on the part of the representatives of government to work with us in these areas.”

Author: Sainey MK Marenah