(JollofNews) – The All-Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group (PHRG) and the Africa All-Party Parliamentary Group Panel will Wednesday meet in London to discuss concerns about the worsening human rights situation in the Gambia, particularly in the run-up to Presidential elections in December.
The meeting which will be chaired by Anne McLaughlin, Scottish National Party Member of Parliament for Glasgow North East, is expected to feature representatives from various rights groups including Stephen Cockburn, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for West and Central Africa, Lucy Freeman, CEO of Media Legal Defence Initiative and Gambian-born Alieu Badara Ceesay, founder of Campaign for Human Rights in the Gambia UK.
During the hour-long meeting, participants will look at how recent political developments in the small West African country has affect security in the region.
They will also explore how space for civil society, independent media and opposition can be better protected, and good governance and greater tolerance encouraged; and, to reflect on how the UK Parliamentarians and the UK Government, as well as the international community more generally, can constructively engage on these issues.
The Gambia is ruled with an iron fist by President Yahya Jammeh who came to power in a 1994 military coup. He keeps on making headlines for recurrent attacks on gays and lesbians; gross human rights violations including crackdown on the media and political parties.
In April this year, security forces launched a violent crackdown on supporters of the main opposition United
Democratic Party (UDP) after they took to the streets to peacefully demand electoral reforms and the resignation of President Jammeh.
Over a dozen opposition supporters were arrested and tortured at the headquarters of the feared National Inteligence Agency (NIA) in Banjul, leading to the death of Solo Sandeng, the party’s organising secretary.
The Gambian regime has refused to investigate Mr Sandeng’s killing and President Jammeh has slammed UN chief Ban Ki-moon and Amnesty International for demanding an investigation.
“Ban Ki-moon and Amnesty International can go to hell! Who are they to demand that?” he said in an interview with Jeune Afrique weekly.
“I don’t see the point. People die in custody or during interrogations, it’s really common. This time, there is only one dead and they want investigations? I will not.
“No one can tell me what to do in my country.”
Mr Jammeh has also vowed to kill and bury his opponents and critics ‘nine-feet deep’.