David Martin, MEP for Scotland
David Martin, MEP for Scotland

(JollofNews) – A Scottish Labour Party politician and member of European Parliament who campaigned against the violation of rights abuses in the Gambia has commended his colleagues in Brussels for taking a tough stance against the regime of President Jammeh.

On Thursday members of the European parliament passed a resolution which called on member state to consider  imposing a travel ban or other targeted sanctions on officials responsible for serious human rights abuses in the Gambia.

The parliamentarians also called on the European Union and its member states to consider freezing all non-humanitarian assistance to the government of The Gambia.

The law makers also expressed concern about the Gambia’s “rapidly-worsening security and human rights situation” and called for the immediate release of all peaceful protesters.

Commenting on the resolution, David Martin said: “It is unfortunate that the Gambia has so far received little attention from this European Parliament. I’m glad that this is changing today, and that we have a strong cross-party resolution addressing the systematic human rights abuses being committed by Jammeh’s regime. The European Union must underline to the Gambian Government that it will always prioritize human rights in its dealings with partner countries.”

President Yahya Jammeh
President Yahya Jammeh is ruling the Gambia with an iron fist

Mr Martins added: “The behaviour of the Jammeh regime is totally not acceptable and I strongly condemn the Gambian Government’s harsh action against peaceful protestors and the legal measures it has taken to prevent a strong political opposition.

“I hope today’s resolution prompts a pro-active response from the EU Commission and member states to deter Jammeh’s regime from further human rights abuses, and encourage the Gambia to revise its policies on arbitrary detention, and banning public gatherings and free media.”

Also commenting on the resolution, the Socialist and Democrats, a progressive alliance in the EU parliament said: “The European Parliament sent a strong signal to the Gambian government today that human rights are not negotiable when you deal with the EU.

“An overwhelming majority of MEPs called on Gambia to end its policies of arbitrary detention and torture of civilians. We want to see a free media, a fair judicial system, and freedom of speech, assembly and sexuality in the Gambia.

“Recent government crackdowns on opposition activists adds to a long history of human rights abuses by this brutal regime, and urgent action is required to prevent the situation from deteriorating in the run-up to the December presidential elections. Despite efforts by the European Union over the last two years to engage with Jammeh’s administration on human rights, little progress has been made and I welcome the resolution’s call for consultations under article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement. The Gambian Government must be held to account.”

The resolution was also hailed by Alieu Ceesay, a Gambian activist, who is currently at the EU Parliament in Brussels.
Mr Ceesay described the tough stance by the EU as a major milestone in the history of the fight to restore democracy and the rule of law in the Gambia.

He thanked MEP David Martin, his staff, and all the political groupings who took the bold step in sending the strongest signal against the Gambian regime.

Omar Bah, chairperson of Gambia Youth for Unity, expressed gratitude to Mr. Ceesay and his group for a very successful campaign through his MEP and the EU parliament.

“These are the kind of actions that make a fundamental difference in the campaign against impunity in the Gambia,” he said.

“I encourage Gambians living in the US and other parts of the world to also engage their senators and congressional delegations to extend similar sanctions against the Jammeh regime. The EU action is a game changer and there is no way Jammeh tyranny can ignore its impact.”