The National Human Rights Commission, The Gambia
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), established by an Act of the National Assembly in 2017, is an 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. Its other functions include recommending appropriate remedial action to the Government regarding a human rights violation, seeking appropriate redress on behalf of victims, and assisting the Government in the formulation of appropriate policies and laws to guarantee human rights.
As the institution of the State mandated to protect the rights of everyone in The Gambia, the NHRC has learned with great concern the attack on some journalists which happened on 21stNovember 2019 at the Janjangbureh – Lamin Koto ferry crossing point.
According to reports reaching the NHRC, three journalistsworking for three news outlets namely, Kerr Fatou, The Gambia Talent Promotion and Paradise Radio covering the ongoing President’s Meet the People’s tour were allegedly assaulted and manhandled by some members of the Barrow Youth for National Development for merely filming some youths who were complaining about the lack of transportation despite the fact that they had already paid fares in advance to be transported from Central River Region to Lower River Region to take part in the Presidential tour .
The NHRC is very concerned about the reported assault on the said journalists and condemns any and all forms of violence on journalists as a threat to press freedom and therefore unacceptable in a democratic society. Journalistsplay a pivotal role in our democratisation process and their work must be respected by all and sundry as expected in a democratic society.
The NHRC commends the State for issuing a Press release clarifying issues and condemning the act, however, the NHRC calls upon all political party supporters and everyone to respect the rights and freedoms of journalists as guaranteed by law and to avoid actions that compromise their individual safety. We also call on the Government to investigate thisincident and bring the perpetrators to justice in order to avoid future recurrence.
The NHRC urges the authorities to ensure that journalists covering the Presidential tour, and any future activities, can do their work without fear of attack.
Emmanuel Daniel Joof