Basirou Mahoney

Basirou Mahoney on the hot seat in Geneva

The Gambia on Tuesday became a hot cake at the second cycle of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review in Geneva, Switzerland, where the country’s appalling human rights credentials were being questions. The country’s Justice Minister Basirou Mahoney became so pounded with questions, concerns and recommendations by United Nations member countries that he at one point stumbled.

Mr. Mahoney was flanked by Interior Minister Ousman Sonko. Mahoney was spotted several times listening to Mr. Sonko before he answered questions. Sonko himself looked so stunned and kept staring helplessly as representative of 64 countries criticized the Gambia for its gross violations of human rights.

Speaker after speaker – even countries that ordinarily favour the Gambia – hammered the West African nation for the 2012 execution of death row inmates, disappearances, detention without trial and murder of prominent people, including a journalist.

 

Minister Mahoney had earlier presented a sugar-coated report on the Gambia, saying the country has not only guaranteed the rights of its citizens but also allowed them to seek redress in court when their rights have been violated. In essence, Mahoney described the Gambia as a model of good governance, justice and human rights. He said the country has been conducting free and fair elections, allocating equal airtime to all political contenders and guaranteeing freedom of expression and speech. He said the independent media is free to disseminate information without hindrance.

Mahoney painted a good picture of the Gambia where prisoners have access to quality health care on a regular basis. He also said the country does not condone illegal detention without trial even though hundreds of Gambians, including Mambury Njie, a former Gambian minister, remain in this state of affairs. Mahoney added that his government has protected the rights of prisoners.

Mahoney said families of Gambians who are detained for more than 72 hours file habeas corpus in court demanding their release.

Ends

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