As the tiny West African nation continues to be engulfed in an unprecedented political crisis, the Gambia Bar Association has voiced concern over the situation of human rights and rule of law in the country.
“The Gambia Bar Association (GBA) is very concerned about the human rights and rule of law challenges,” GBA Secretary General Abdul Aziz Bensouda told this reporter.
Since April 14, a protest march spearheaded by United Democratic Party (UDP) members provoked a strong repression by the authorities. A political activist and UDP youth leader Solo Sandeng was reportedly arrested and tortured to death by security personnel. A situation that prompted party leader Ousainou Darboe to take to the streets with supporters. He was arrested along with dozens of them and charged with multiple counts including conspiracy.
GBA Secretary General Abdul Aziz Bensouda made it clear that the association has been engaging in active consultation with the authorities and is actively monitoring the court case – UDP leader and Co case.
“The honourable members representing the accused have done so on a pro bono basis,” he emphasized.
He then seized the opportunity to set the record straight about the BAR’s involvement in the ongoing court case.
“The Bar Association is not involved in the pending criminal case although its members are engaged by the accused persons and are providing representation to them,” said GBA’s Abdul Aziz Bensouda.
Gambia is ruled with an iron fist by President Jammeh who seized power in a 1994 military coup. His 21-year rule has been marked by gross human rights violations. He has vowed to push for a fifth term as the Presidential election is set for December 2016.
Written by Abdoulie JOHN