A European Union diplomat in Gambia has urged Gambian lawmakers and civil society organizations to be firm against corruption and repression
The European Union Ambassador to The Gambia, Atilas Lajos, has urged national assembly members and civil society organizations to stand firm against any form of repression and corruption to ensure that the country does not turn back to its dark days.
Lajos was speaking at a day-long convergence organised by Article 19, an international group fighting for freedom of expression around the world, to sensitise parliamentarians in safeguarding Human Rights in the Gambia.
Lajos said the national assembly must not shy away from its moral duty and responsibility in ensuring that there are check and balances in governance.
“To ensure that the gains are not lost…The country needs a free press, fundamental justice system to root out abuses and excess, open society and active citizens to reject any form of injustice; National Assembly that does not shy away from its moral duties, strong institutions to check the power, commitment to transparency that gives every Gambian a stake in their government with total refusal to tolerate the corruption that stalled the various opportunities,” said Lajos.
Gambia has experienced two decades of dictatorship where its lawmaking body has been used to make laws that entrench Yahya Jammeh.
The EU is Gambia’s biggest donour partner. The 28-member country has spent million of euros in budject support to Gambia from 2017 to 2019.
Lajos said the EU will be delighted to continue partnering with the Gambia.
Meanwhile, Article 19 regional director, Fatou Jagne Senghore, urged the newly established parliamentary committee on human rights and constitutional matters to assist the government in implementation of its human rights obligations.
“We hope this conference will enable members to be familiar with their mandate in enhancing human rights compliant legislation and also ensure that they play a pivotal role in supporting the government accelerate the reforms that will strengthen human rights frameworks to ensure media laws and access to information be enacted in the Gambia,” said Senghore.
The Speaker of the national assembly, Mariam Jack-Denton said the national assembly has an important role to play in ensuring respect for human rights, particularly on the basis of two of its principal functions.
“Parliamentarians have an obligation by virtue of their legislative functions to ensure that effective measures are taken to prevent human rights violations, and to ensure that national laws provide practical and effective means by which remedies are sought for alleged violations of human rights,” said Denton.
She said the parliamentarians also have a role in monitoring the government’s human rights performance, saying the convergence will enhance the potentials of the human rights committee to engage on a range of constitutional and human rights issues to ensure that the government and all stakeholders in national development adhere to the principle of protecting the rights and liberties of the people.
ARTICLE 19 West Africa in partnership with the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) with the support from the European Union is implementing a two-year project aimed at strengthening human rights standards in the Gambia.
The project funded by the EU is focused on strengthening human rights and supporting transition in the Gambia.
The project seeks to assist the National Assembly to setup a committee on good governance that focuses on promoting and protecting human rights.