Sulayman Samba, Secretary-General
Sulayman Samba, Secretary-General

(JollofNews) – A senior Gambia Government official Wednesday told delegates at the 58th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) that the West African nation is is committed to protecting human rights of its people.

Gambian president, Yahya Jammeh, who is regularly accused of rights abuses, has ruled the Gambia with an aura of mysticism and an iron fist since seizing power in 1994.

His regime was singled out for its poor rights record in Britain’s annual Human Rights and Democracy Report, which cited cases of unlawful detentions, illegal closures of newspapers and radio stations and discrimination against minority groups.

But Sulayman Samba, secretary-general and head of the Gambian Civil Services, said the Jammeh regime has made strides in the promotion and protection of human rights in various human rights related areas, such as health, education, empowerment of women and youths, children’s issues and agriculture.

He added that the government has also adopted laws and policies in fulfillment of its human rights obligations under the various international instruments it has ratified.

“The Gambia Government will continue to respect human rights in line with its international obligations,” Mr Samba said at the opening ceremony of the two week-session.

“The recent banning of female genital mutilation and the enactment of the law prohibiting FGM as well as other legal frameworks such as the Domestic Violence Act of 2013, the Sexual Offences Act of 2013 and the Women’s Act of 2010 are clear manifestations of the Government of the Gambia’s strong commitment to the promotion and protection of the rights of women.”

The two-week session is organised with the view to affording the opportunity for human rights organisations in various countries within the African Union to report on the human rights situation in their individual countries as well as share common ideas for progress.

Hannah Forster, executive director of African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies and chairperson of the NGO Forum Steering Committee, said the NGO Forum’s meeting would review and formulate strategies and recommendations on the following three themes: developments on the situation of human rights and democracy in Africa; review of Specific human rights issues relevant to the work of the African Commission and networking for human rights in Africa.

She said the report of the forum together with the adopted resolutions and recommendations will be forwarded for consideration as their contribution to the deliberations at the 58th Ordinary Session.