Justice Minister Edward Gomez has told human rights defenders that the peaceful co-existence of all religious domination and faiths without any persecution by Government is a clear testimony in promoting and upholding religious freedom.
However, he said as a developing nation, The Gambia is ready to learn its difficulties and challenges in promoting human rights, while stating that “we are also firm in our desire and commitment to keep the peace and stability were are known to have enjoy”.
Mr. Gomez’s stance was relayed through the Curator Interstate Estate at the Ministry of Justice Mrs. Isatou Graham, at the opening of the 49th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and people’s Rights (ACHPR) in Banjul on April 28, 2011.
He reiterated that The Gambia Government is ready and willingly to learn and adopt best practices available to improve its human rights records and to best protect the human rights of people.
While urging rights defenders to act responsibly in the process of their work, he noted that the resumption of civil war in Libya and the killing of innocent citizens demands urgent action, likewise the electoral conflict in Ivory Coast which has claimed the lives of thousands and millions displaced.
He stressed that there is a need for a holistic approach to the sub-regional and regional dimension of these conflicts by broadening the scope of human rights to incorporate the fundamental rights and protection of marginalize groups.
Commissioner Reine Alapini-Gansou, the Chairperson of the African Commission said for the past six years the African continental have witnessed massive violation of fundamental human rights.
She made reference to the current crisis in Libya, which she described as a “serious” concern to the ACHPR. Elections have of recent become a major source of conflicts, and Alapini-Gansou noted that many African countries will take to the polls this year.
On her part, the Commissioner for Political Affairs African Union Commission Mrs. Julia Dolly Joiner said the African continent and the world have put their eyes on North Africa and the Middle East, where demands for change are coming from within.
“The people are calling for great civil liberties, economic opportunities and a stake in the governance of their societies,” she said.
She said popular uprisings mirrors a universal yearning for dignity and respect and serve to underscore once more the inextricable linkages between human rights, democracy and developments, and freedom of expression.
She said the two weeks session of the ACHPR very instrumental in reaffirming their dedication and commitment towards attaining the African Union’s vision on universal access to human and people’s right that was so eloquently enunciated in the adopted African Charter on Human and People’s Right in 1981.