Gambian civil society optimistic as new democratic era dawns – CIVICUS
The Gambia has recently gone through a major democratic transition. CIVICUS interviews Sohna Sallah, the Vice President of the Democratic Union of Gambian Activists about the major political change and implications for human rights in the Gambia.
1. What were the core human rights challenges under the previous regime?
The most pervasive human rights violations under the regime of former President Yahya Jammeh were firstly, the lack of an independent press, and the victimisation and even murder of journalists. At one time, the entire executive of the Gambia Press Union were outside the country for fear of reprisals. This environment created an uninformed population who were oblivious to many of the atrocities and human rights violations that were occurring in the country. Secondly, arbitrary arrests, and the 72-hour detention clause in the Gambian Constitution was the most abused of all rights in the Gambia. Many people spent months or years in jails across the country, some incommunicado with no access to lawyers and many still remain unaccounted for. Lastly, impunity was the mechanism that perpetuated the lack of rule of law and the repression in the country.
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