Gambia’s National Human Rights Commission has strongly condemned recent threats by one of President Adama Barrow’s advisers to shoot at pro-democracy activists should they dare embark on nationwide protest against the government.
3 Years Jot Nah, a recently formed group, is putting pressure on President Adama Barrow to respect his campaign promise and call fresh election in December 2019.
The group has vowed to launch peaceful protests in all parts of the country against the government should the president disregard a key part of the Memorandum of Understanding he signed in 2016 with other parties who united before the polls.
Seven opposition parties united behind Barrow in the run up to the polls, which enabled him to unseat long serving Yahya Jammeh who had ruled the Gambia for over two decades.
But despite his earlier promises to only serve for a three-year transition period after winning elections, the president has had a change of heart and has vowed to cling on to power until 2021.
And Henry Gomez, one of his senior advisers, is reported to have said during a political rally in Brikama, attended by the president, that would be demonstrators risk being shot at citing as warning April 10 and 11 of 2000 in which 14 Gambians were shot following demonstration by school children as reference to what can happen again.
The National Human Rights Commission said it condemns Mr Gomez’s remarks in the strongest possible terms and reminded the government that people have a right to freedom of expression, assembly and to demonstrate peacefully.
“These are fundamental rights guaranteed in our constitution and under regional and international treaties and conventions that we have ratified,” said Emmanuel Joseph Joof, chairman of the independent and permanent institution which is mandated to promote, monitor, investigate and protect human rights, as well as create a culture of human rights in the Gambia.
“The fact that people are demonstrating or wish to do so does not mean that they are riotous or that they are criminals. To threaten would be demonstrators with bullets is unbecoming of a presidential adviser and should be condemned in the strongest terms. Such language is not one which is or should be permitted in a democratic society.”