Abdul Aziz Bensouda/ bensouda.net image 

By Abdoulie John

The Gambia Bar Association (GBA) has voiced concern over the situation of human rights and rule of law in the country. The Bar’s concerns come as the Gambia finds itself embroiled in an unprecedented political crisis.

“The Gambia Bar Association is very concerned about the human
rights and rule of law challenges,” GBA Secretary General Abdul Aziz
Bensouda told this reporter.

A peaceful protest march calling for electoral reforms was met with excessive force on April 14th. Gambian security forces arrested the protesters led by Ebrima Solo Sandeng, an executive member of opposition United Democratic Party. The protesters were subjected to brutal tortures culminating in the death of Mr. Sandeng. News of Sandeng’s callous killing had prompted the UDP leader Ousainou Darboe and his executive to take to the streets with supporters. He was arrested along with dozens of them and charged with multiple counts including holding a protest with a permit.

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.


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