|The NGOs Forum|
The Coordinator of the West African Human Rights Network Mr. Abdoul Gadiry Diallo has said that The Gambia, which is the host of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), is not free from criticism when it comes to human rights violations.
Mr. Diallo was presenting a paper on an “Update on the Human Rights Situation in West Africa” at the Forum on the Participation of Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) in the 49th Ordinary Session of the ACHPR and the 23rd African Human Rights Book Fair in Banjul from April 25-27, 2011. The Forum is organised by the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS) in collaboration with the ACHPR and other human rights organizations.
According to Mr. Diallo, human rights defenders in The Gambia are working in dire conditions. He said there have been reports on enforced disappearances of which accusing fingers have been pointed to the Gambian security.
He said: “Peoples passports have been seized, the holding of peace assembly and protests have been repressed, too many check points established, press freedom and freedom of expression muzzled”.
In Ivory Coast, he said thousands of people have been displaced and hundreds killed in post election violence, but the question is how can justice be done and be seen to be done.
He noted that President Alassane Ouattara has given assurances the perpetrators of the various crimes committed during the war will be brought to book, however, he stressed that attempts to restore justice should apply to both sides (forces loyal to Gbagbo and Ouattara).
In Nigeria, Mr. Diallo noted that there have been reports of more than 500 deaths after clashes erupted amongst civilians after the announcement of the results of the Presidential elections. This, he said is a major concern and it reminds them of ethnic clashes in Kenya.
Benin has been hailed as a democratic country, but we have seen the violations that have been committed in that country, and we even begin to imagine how free and fair the 2011 Elections in the country was.
We are yet to see justice to be done in Guinea Conakry, with regards to the September 2009 massacre. This is a real concern and it need to be given due attention in order to ensure that justice is done on behalf of the victims.
According to Mr. Diallo, in Mauritania, there are no “Independent radio stations”. He said all the radio stations have been turned to pro-government media institutions, leaving press freedom and free expression to be stifled by the government.
Generally, he said the West African Sub-region has seen a host of bad governance practices where human rights violations of all sorts are perpetrated.
In a host of recommendations, Diallo said states should be seriously committed to the promotion and protection of human rights; conduct free and fair elections; fight against impunity; and to take strong measures to protect human rights and respect their constitutions.
And domesticate the conventions they’ve ratified internationally.