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EU Stands ready to take action to protect human rights defenders

EU ambassador to the Gambia, Attila Lajos

By Arfang M.S. Camara

European Union in the Gambia has announced the beginning of a campaign # Breakthesilence# to protect human right defenders in the country.

The diplomatic unit of the EU bloc made this controversial pledge on Saturday through its official Facebook page.
According to the EU, as entrenched in the 1997 Constitution, all Gambians have an equal right to education, employment, health services and political participation. No Gambian should be excluded from fully participating in Gambian society.
It added that “one may not agree with someone’s personal choices and preferences, but gay and lesbian Gambians are, first and foremost, Gambians.
It further went on to say that the European Union stands ready to take action to protect human rights defenders, adding that in 2019, in The Gambia, the EU had to use its Human Rights safeguarding mechanism to save someone whose life was threatened because of his sexual orientation.

“Such treat has no place in the democratic society,” EU Gambia delegation added.
Speaking in an interview, EU Ambassador in The Gambia, Attila Lajos stated that the multi-million-euro budget support for the Gambia was based on democratic principles, adding that but the issue of gay and lesbian wasn’t mentioned.
“The budgetary support was agreed to be coming in a roughly annual disbursement right from the beginning. So made an agreement with the Gambian government on that. We also agreed that preconditions are such in which we joined to establish with the Gambian government so that they are achievable.”
He added that: “They are also objectives which helps the Gambian transition to progress. The Gambian people decided in 2016, so we will have to deliver on those promises and that’s what we have been doing.”
For the coronavirus pandemic, he added, specifically agreements were challenged by the fact that the Gambian government like any other government in the world, need the physical space and sufficient finances to organize their fight against covid-19 in the country.
This, he added was the reason why the €9 million donated to the country had very little benchmark to achieve.
“As long as The Gambia remains on the democratic path and also makes progress in the most strategic democratic change, constitutional and legal reforms, amongst others take place in the country, the European Union is interested in delivering the funds for assistance as we can.”

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