Human rights lawyer calls ‘death’ a nation lacking rule of law
|Human Rights Lawyer, Assan Martin|
One of Gambia’s most outspoken critics of government policies and programmes, human rights lawyer, Assan Martin, has classified as “death” a nation without rule of law, respect for human rights and democracy.
Such a country is doomed, Mr Martin said while putting up a proposal to run as an “independent candidate” against President Yahya Jammeh in the November 24, 2011 presidential election.
His comments came during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a unity pact between five opposition political parties in Banjul on October 29, 2011, intended to oust the incumbent, Yahya Jammeh, who led the country for 17 years and still counting.
“My purpose here is of a cause that I believe in, and not about power, this country is found on ideals and those ideals are based on human rights, rule of law and democracy. If we abandon these ideals I don’t see where our country is heading to. It is up to Gambians to decide where we are heading to,” the private lawyer said. “Gambians needs to think about what kind of nation we are going to turn to for the future generation of this country.”
Martins, who at some point said he does not want to become monotonous, have made frequent pronouncements on newspapers advocating for human rights, which he said is a “cause he believes and cannot abandon.” He added that these are principles of every nation that must be democratic and accountable to the people. Things are being done in this country without accountability.
“I have a story that upsets me wherever I travel around the globe. There is a man called Abdurrahman Baldeh who has been in detention for 14 years at Mile II, the State’s Central Prison without any charge preferred against him. This is very sad, and what type of society are we living in,” he quizzed. “I have written to the Ministry and published his ordeal on newspapers but this has not been heeded to. In a civilize society, we should review all the remand cases these people are facing.”
Martin also revealed that he had clients, who have been acquitted and discharged by the court, but they are still remanded in prison and their liberty is at stake. “We must free people when they are freed by the court. I have told the authorities that whenever people are freed, they should release them. I don’t believe in politic of vengeance or violence, I believe in politics of solution and doing what is right for the people,” he said.
“In a descent society, we must allow rule of law to prevail, but is sad that I visited this man and wrote to the authorities without action. Are we going to let the man died in prison, no; it is not fair on him.”
He said politicians in the united front aims are to serve Gambians in the best ways and for him; this is the reason he considered the dignity and value of human being as vital and must be protected.
He concluded by urging his compatriots to allow divergent views in the society, saying “democracy is not about fighting each other, it is about being tolerant”.
“When somebody speaks allow him, you can be guided from the other side. No human being is perfect, many mistakes have been done and many Gambians have been misled.”
- Author: Modou S. Joof