Senegal: EU Parliamentary delegation concludes Gambia visit

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) – A delegation from the European Union (EU) parliament has concluded a working visit to the Gambia ahead of the country's December election, PANA reports Friday.

The Head of the delegation and British MP, David Martin, addressed journalists in Banjul at the end of the working visit, saying the purpose of their trip to the Gambia was to follow up on EU Parliament's resolution on the Gambia issued out in May.

The EU made a resolution voicing great concern on the human rights situation in Gambia after opposition demonstrations led to arrests, detention, torture and subsequent death in custody of an opposition leader in April.

So the delegation embarked on the working visit to the Gambia between 19 and 22 September to collect more information, influence the government to improve its human rights record as well as support human rights campaigners.

''The delegation has called on the Gambian government to release all protesters arrested in connection with the April demonstrations, including the UDP leader Ousainou Darboe,'' Mr. Martin said.

The government has been urged ''to grant access to state media to opposition parties, to allow the United Nations Special Elections Team access to the county, in order to respect international democratic norms.''

''We are also extremely concerned about the death in custody of Solo Sandeng. We also put this in the context of the upcoming Presidential elections in December, where we have serious doubt about the likelihood of free and fair elections taking place in December.''

The delegation also called on the government to conduct an independent investigation into Solo Sandeng’s death in custody.

''It has become clear that important provisions of the Gambian constitution are still to be fully implemented, especially those on freedom of speech and prisoners’ rights,'' Martin noted.

The Gambian government has been encouraged to carry out its plans of setting up a National Human Rights Commission.

''We are interested in having good relations with The Gambia. If, however, the human rights situation does not improve or even deteriorates, the European Parliament has indicated that there will be a need to consider targeted sanctions on officials responsible for the serious human rights abuses,'' Martin added.  

The delegation commended the hospitality and openness of its Gambian counterparts, adding:
''regrettably, though, government representatives were not available.''

As part of the visit, the delegation met with members of Gambia's Independent Electoral Commission, opposition leaders, National Assembly members, Ombudsman, among others.
-0- PANA MLJ/VAO 23Sept2016

23 september 2016 14:29:11

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