The European Parliament has issued a major resolution condemning ‘the rapidly worsening security and human rights situation in The Gambia’.
The resolution demands the release of peaceful protestors arrested in Gambia and calls on the European Union (EU) and Member States to consider imposing travel bans and targeted sanctions against officials responsible for serious human rights abuses.
It recognises ‘LGBTI people are often victims of attacks, threats or arbitrary arrests by security forces and some of them have been forced to leave the country for their own safety’. It calls on the Government of Gambia to take all necessary measures to stop the discrimination against, and attacks and criminalisation of, LGBTI people.
Commenting on the resolution, UKLGIG Executive Director, Paul Dillane, who has acted as an expert witness in a series of legal cases concerning Gambia, said:
‘The human rights situation in Gambia has deteriorated alarmingly in recent years. In wave after wave of arrests, President Jammeh has targeted peaceful demonstrators, political opponents, journalists, LGBTI people and even members of his own administration. Torture is rife.
This landmark resolution sends a clear signal: these appalling abuses must end and those who commit the same can no longer do so with impunity.
For years Gambian activists, many of them forced into exile by Jammeh’s brutal regime, have called for travel bans and sanctions against those officials who commit serious human rights abuses. We welcome the European Parliament’s support for their cause.
We look forward to working with activists and refugees within the Gambian diaspora community to raise these important issues with the UK Government who should take action to support human rights and the rule of law in Gambia.’
Today a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urged the Gambian Government to release all those who have been arrested and detained for simply having exercised their rights to freedom of expression, opinion and assembly.
President Jammeh has a long history of anti-gay hate speech and has threatened to “cut off the head” of any gay person found in the country. In a recent report, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Global LGBT Rights urged caution in respect of the use of measures such as travel bans but acknowledged:
‘Evidence presented to the inquiry suggested that the use of targeted visa bans that limit the ability of politicians and public figures at the forefront of introducing discriminatory legislation to travel to the UK can be an effective means of discouraging support for regressive measures.’