Basirou Mahoney

Justice MInister Basirou Mahoney

Due to public demand, Kairo News has decided to bring you the Gambia’s 2014 Universal Periodic Review report that was presented in

Geneva on October 28. Gambian activist victims – Dr. Amadou Scattred Janneh and Musa Saidykhan – were in Geneva for the programme.

 

I. Methodology

1. This Report was prepared by the Ministry of Justice, under the leadership of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Basirou Mahoney. The information contained in the Report was collated by the different government ministries and agencies whose representatives constituted a National Task Force formed specifically for the purpose of making this report for the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review 2014. The Task force was comprised of the Gambia Police Force, Gambia Immigration Department, Department of Social Welfare the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gambia Commission on Refugees, UNDP, the Gambia Prisons Services, Ministry of Interior, Gambia Bureau of Statistics, Office of the President, Women`s Bureau and the Child Protection Alliance.

2. The members of the Task Force held weekly consultative meetings and were expected to present mini-reports on their activities and challenges encountered in the promotion and protection of human rights in The Gambia.

3. A validation workshop was held wherein the final report was presented before government officials, parastatals and various representatives of civil society organizations.

The contributions of the various participants were incorporated in the report prior to its
submission to the United Nations.

4. This report focuses on progress made in the implementation of the recommendations which were accepted by The Gambia during the 14th session of the Human Rights Council on 24th March, 2010.

5. In drafting this report, the guidelines contained in resolution no 16/21 of the Human Rights Council were adhered to.

II. Developments since the last review
A. Equitable access to education

6. It is notable that under the Education for All and the Fast Track Initiative, The Gambia is one of the leading African countries that have met the Millennium Development Goals with respect to primary school enrolment free of charge, as well as gender parity.

7. Since the last reporting period, in order to promote and safeguard the right to education for all, the Government has constructed more schools with a proximity range of 3 kilometers to provide access to education to every Gambian child. There are currently 896 national Early Childhood Development Centers, 599 Lower Basic Schools (LBS), 113 Upper Basic Schools (UBS), 194 Basic Cycle schools (BCS) and 122 Senior Secondary Schools (SSS). This is a significant increase from 520 LBS, 91 UBS, 158 BCS and 99 SSS in 2010.

8. There has also been a recorded significant increase in school enrolment at different
different education levels and particularly, in the number of girls’ enrolment. At the Lower Basic cycle, the Gross Enrolment Rate increased from 88.3% in 2010 to 92.5 % in 2013. This includes Madrassa (Islamic religious schools) enrolment which is now officially recognized. During the same period, the Gross Enrolment Rate for girls increased from 89.1% to 93.7% and for boys from 87.5% to 91.4 %.

9. There has however been a decline in the lower basic completion rate from 73.9% in 2010 to 73.1%. In the Upper Basic cycle the Gross Enrolment Rate increased from 66.2% in 2010 to 68.1% in 2013. This growth in enrolment represents an average annual growth of 15%. It is worth noting that the period between 2010 and 2013 has witnessed a remarkable increase in the Upper Basic Gross Enrolment Rate of the girl-child, from 65.6% in 2010 to 68.1% in 2013. There have also been more boys enrolled in upper basic education from a gross enrolment rate of 66.9% in 2010 to 68.9% in 2013.

10. Furthermore, Secondary School enrolment has improved from 33.9% in 2010 to 39.1% in 2013 with a notable increment in the enrolment of the girl child from 30.6% in 2010 to 39.1% in 2013.

11. This increment is reflective of Government`s efforts to increase access to education for the girl child and to expose her to better opportunities in life. The Government engages in public sensitization programmes to encourage parents to make educating their female children, in addition to the male a priority.

12. The University of The Gambia continues to register an annual increment in the number of students desirous of attending post secondary education. The Government of The Gambia makes a generous financial contribution as scholarships to the needy students who cannot afford the cost of post secondary education.

13. The Gambia Law School was also established in 2011, to provide equitable access to professional legal training to law graduates, who upon completion of the Barrister at Law course, become qualified home grown barristers.

14. The Government also invests in capacity building of the educators from basic level to tertiary level of education both within the country and overseas with the objective of providing valuable, high quality education for all. In addition, periodic review of the academic curriculum is conducted to ensure that schools provide high quality of education that is relevant for Human development and empowerment.

15. These education reforms are in accordance with the National Education Policy 2004-2015, to reduce the rate of illiteracy by 50% by 2015 and the Dakar Framework for Action,which promotes the creation of a literate society sufficient to contribute to the socioeconomic advancement of the population.

 

B. Gender-based violence

16. In order to combat the vice of gender violence, the National Assembly passed the Domestic Violence and Sexual Offences Bills on 17th December. These two Acts will be significance in addressing violence against women and girls. The Domestic Violence Act
2013 addresses domestic violence; provides protection for the victims of domestic violence, particularly women and children. The Sexual Offences Act criminalizes every form of
sexual assault, exploitation and harassment.

17. A Multi-Sectoral Network on Gender Based Violence has also been established to provide advocacy and create awareness at national and community level on the issues of Gender Based Violence.

18. Several sensitization campaigns are being conducted at both national, local and grass
root levels on the provisions of these new legislations, the hazards of domestic violence and
its negative impact on family life.

19. In addition, several other measures are being taken to combat gender based violence.2itThese include the formulation and implementation of the National Gender and Women Advancement Policy, 2010–2020. This policy also focuses on measures and strategies to eradicate Violence Against Women (VAW) and Gender Based Violence (GBV). A National study on GBV was conducted in 2010. This led to the development and implementation of a National Action Plan against Gender Based Violence and as well as a five year communication Strategy on Gender Based Violence. This is meant to guide all communication interventions that will influence attitudes and social norms within the private and public spheres to reduce gender based violence particularly wife beating.

20. The Department of Social Welfare also has established a rehabilitation center for victims of gender based violence. This center provides free legal advice, health checks, emergency referrals to hospitals, as well as the provision of temporal residential placement.

21. Furthermore the new Domestic Violence Act creates a Domestic Violence Support Fund to support the victims of domestic violence. The purpose of this Support Fund is to inter alia ensure the provision of basic material support to victims of domestic violence, training victims and families and care supporters of victims of domestic violence and for the construction of shelters for victims of domestic violence in all regions and districts in the country.

 

C. Maternal health and infant mortality

22. There is in place a National Health Policy, 2012–2020 exists which promotes the right to health for all and its vision statement is the Provision of quality and affordable Health Services for All By 2020. All the organs of the Government are enjoined to observe and be guided by this principle of State policy with the view of fulfilling its objective of Promoting and protecting the health of the population through the equitable provision of quality health care services.

23. Maternal and Antenatal health care including family planning is offered free of charge in all Government health facilities. Primary and secondary health care have also significantly expanded (to meet the attainment of Universal Access to healthcare), and increased immunization has reduced mortality rates. In The Gambia the large majority of women receive antenatal care from skilled health providers, and 86 percent of women received antenatal care from skilled health professionals, that is, a doctor, nurse, or midwife, during the pregnancy for their most recent birth in the last five years.

24. Antenatal coverage varies little by mother’s characteristics, and even among women with
no education 84 percent receive antenatal care. Among rural women the proportion is 85 percent. Tetanus toxoid injections are given to women during pregnancy to protect infants from neonatal tetanus, a cause of infant death that is due primarily to unsanitary conditions at childbirth. Micro-nutrient deficiencies which are a major cause of morbidity and mortality are being addressed through a nutrition supplementation programme. These and other interventions such as increased number of births attended by trained antenatal personnel and maternal education have contributed to the decline in infant mortality and improved maternal health.

25. Maternal mortality rates were estimated at 1050 per 100,000 live births in 1999 and the recently concluded Demographic Health Survey in 2013 indicates Reduction of Maternal mortality to 433 per 100,000 live births. The DHS 2013 and others also show infant and under five mortalities rates were 75 per 1000 and 99 per 1000 live births respectively in 2005, and in 2013 these indicators were 34 per 1000 and 54 per 1000 live births respectively. These figures indicate that the Gambia for the past six (6) years had registered reduction in infant mortality by 54 percent and for under five mortality by 45 percent.

26. As expected, neonatal mortality (mortality during the first month) is higher than post
neonatal mortality (22 deaths per 1,000 compared with 12 deaths per 1,000), representing
65 percent of the overall infant mortality.

27. The Gambia continues to maintain high immunization rates above 90 percent for all
the antigens for children and during 2013 had successfully conducted nationwide
vaccination against Meningitis A, several immunization days for Polio vaccines and has
introduced Rotavirus vaccine into its childhood vaccination schedules.

 

D. The rights of children

28. The Gambia ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the provisions of this Convention were domesticated in the Children`s Act 2005. Apart from the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia and the Children’s Act 2005 other legal instruments which provide for child protection include the Tourism Offences Act 2003, Trafficking in Persons Act 2007, Labour Act 2007 and the Women’s Act 2010 and the Criminal Code.

29. In order to ensure rigorous enforcement of these laws, the Department of Social Welfare frequently trains law enforcers on them, strengthening their capacity in investigation and interviewing techniques especially for crimes of sexual nature against children. It has also established child rights and protection units within the Gambia Police Force, Gambia Immigration Department and the Gambia Armed Forces and provides continuous capacity development to the officers in these Units.

30. With support from UNICEF in 2012, the Department of Social Welfare developed a
Child Protection Training Manual for the Gambia Police Force which has been mainstreamed into the training curriculum of the Gambia Police Training Academy. The Gambia Armed Forces also has a similar training manual, developed with support from Child Fund-The Gambia, which is part of the training curriculum of the Gambia Armed Forced Training School.

31. Similar training Manuals have been developed on Prevention of Gender Based
Violence by the Gambia Women’s Bureau in 2013 and Prevention of Child Sex by the Gambia Tourism Board in 2012.

32. The Gambia Tourism Board provides routine capacity building on the Tourism Offences Act 2003 for members of the Tourism Security Unit. These initiatives, coupled with the public sensitization on the media and community social mobilization campaigns that the Department of Social Welfare conducts in partnership with civil society organizations are geared towards effective and rigorous enforcement of the legislative instruments.

33. The Government has created the enabling environment for Civil Society Organizations working on rights of children. For example, The Gambia Tourism Board has partnered with the Child Protection Alliance, a child rights coalition in The Gambia, which in partnership with the Gambia Tourism Board has from 2010 to date, sensitized 151 stakeholders (taxi drivers, hotel workers, tourist Guides, personnel of the Tourism Security Unit, small scale entrepreneurs) in the Tourism industry on the Code of Conduct of the Gambia Tourism Board for the Protection of Children and the Tourism Offences Act 2003, to ensure greater protection of children from sexual exploitation in tourism.

34. The Child Protection Alliance also conducts training for media practitioners on responsible reporting of children’s issues in the media and successfully encouraged the Gambia Press Union to adopt in July 2012 a Code of Conduct for Media Practitioners on kReporting Stories Relating to Children.

35. In December 2013, the Gambia Tourism Board, in collaboration with the Child
Protection Alliance, launched an electronic signboard with messages on The Gambia’s
stance against Child Sex Tourism at the arrival lounge of the Banjul International Airport.

36. The Department of Social Welfare and Child Protection Alliance, with support from
UNICEF have established five Neighborhood Watch Groups within the Tourism
Development Area of Senegambia, in the communities of Bakau, Kololi, Manjai Kunda,
Bijilo and Kerr Serign.

37. These Groups, comprising of young people and adults from the communities, raise
awareness on child sexual abuse and exploitation issues among community members, identify and mobilize existing community level structures in child rights and protection work at community level, empower and involve communities in addressing protection issues affecting children at community level and report suspected cases to the Police.

38. Between 2012 and 2013, different information and educational materials have been produced on child protection, in particular on child sex tourism and disseminated to hotels, other tourism establishments and schools.

39. The Department of Social Welfare and the Child Protection Alliance have engaged in series of community mobilization campaigns to promote the rights of children.

40. Other Civil Social Organizations such as the Female Lawyers Association of The Gambia, the Network against Gender Based Violence and the Child Protection Alliance conduct radio programmes (radio talk shows and phone-in) to promote respect for the rights of women and children.

41. The Department of Social Welfare has received support from UNICEF for capacity
building of child protection professionals and development of training manuals on child rights and child protection.

42. UNICEF has also supported the Department of Social Welfare to establish and strengthen Multi- Sectoral Community, Child Protection Committees in communities across the country, to further the protection of children from all forms of violence and exploitation.

43. In its efforts to effectively combat child sexual abuse and exploitation, the Department of Social Welfare reviewed and updated its National Plan of Action against the Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children 2011-2015 in order to strengthen the protective environment for children.

44. The National Gender Policy and Women Empowerment 2010-2020 addresses the
existing gender imbalances and ensure sustained and sustainable socio-economic
development.

45. The Criminal Code, Laws of The Gambia also criminalizes any form of sexual activity with children and the Ministry of Justice has keenly prosecuted all such cases and it is the policy within the ministry to push for the strongest punishment against convicts of sexual offences against children.

46. All police stations country wide now have Child Welfare Units. Each of these units has trained Child Welfare Officers to address issues relating to children.

47. The primary function of these units is to deal with minors who are endangered or in conflict with the law in ways which protect their rights. The Police Child Welfare Officers undergo continuous training on juvenile justice and administration, children`s rights, inclusive of international standards for the administration of juvenile justice and prevention of juvenile delinquency by the Government under the auspices of the Ministry of Justice, Department of Social Welfare with the collaboration of UNICEF and Civil Society Organisations.

48. Judicial reforms have also been made to ensure protection of children`s rights and in
ensuring Juvenile Justice. Two additional Children’s Courts have been established, one in

Brikama and another in Basse. The State provides the child offenders with free legal representation through the National Agency for Legal Aid.

49. Children in conflict with the law are always separated from adults as required by the
Constitution, the Prison Act and Children’s Act from the pre- trial to trial stage. Young
offenders are always separated from the adult convicts. There has been a separate juvenile
wing at Old Jeshwang Prison since 2000.

50. An After- Arrest Procedure Handbook has also been developed to teach Police officers and social workers at the national and regional levels on the After -Arrest Procedures of child offenders.

51. The Department of Social Welfare is currently providing educational sponsorship for 1000 disadvantaged children, orphans and vulnerable children in basic and secondary schools. It has also provided vocational skills training to 15 out- of -school youths, most of whom were young offenders.

52. The Department of Social Welfare has also placed twenty one (21) abandoned babies at the Shelter for Children and 195 children in difficult circumstances have been provided with emergency placement at the shelter for children.

53. Fifty four (54) children have been provided with rehabilitation and family reintegration
services at the Juvenile Wing, forty six (46) of whom have been re-integrated with families, some of them are back in school and others learning skills.

54. Ten (10) abandoned children have also been placed with foster parents in the community. These families are encouraged to foster the children thus reducing institutional placement. Twenty two (22) maternal orphans have been supported with emergency baby feeding and clothing.

55. The Government ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its optional protocol on the 1st July 2013 expressing political will to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities. There is also a draft Disability Bill under consultation which when enacted shall form part of the laws for the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities.

56. The Government has developed a Disability Advocacy Strategy to integrate the interests of persons with disabilities in the country`s development agenda. The Government has registered success in this field.

57. The Department of Social Welfare has devised a mechanism for addressing some of the concerns of PWDs, in collaboration with The Gambia Federation of the Disabled –Disability Employment Services. It has established a Disability Advocacy Strategy and engaged in Media Campaigns for sensitization (community radio programmes, television talk shows and newspaper articles). Furthermore, it has produced a documentary on PWDs in active and productive ventures for advocacy purposes.

58. People with disabilities are being employed in both the public and private sector.

59. The Government through the Department of Social Welfare has also engaged in disability and equality training and this has been conducted for 12 training institutions and some employers.

60. Countrywide disability outreach services are being provided for Children with Disabilities (CWD), and on the occasion of the launching of the State of the World’s Children Report 2013 in collaboration with UNICEF, 365 children were reached across the regions.

61. The Government has been networking with about 13 partner institutions in order to
embrace disability and to include PWDs in their programmes and activities. Provision of services for technical aids and appliances, home visits, counseling and basic psychosocial therapy are also provided.

62. There are an increasing number of persons with disabilities who are obtaining basic
psychosocial therapy. At the Department of Social Welfare, there are currently 223 new clients, in addition to the old clients registered number of 5686 PWDs.

63. The Department of Social Welfare has also provided 6000 disabled persons with mobility aid artificial limbs, shoes, walking sticks, walking frames and hearing aids.

64. The Government has established a Steering Committee for the management and supervision of Integrated Educational Programmes in mainstreaming children with visual impairment across the regions and this is ongoing.

65. There is also a Joint Advocacy Programme by key stakeholders on inclusive education for children with disability on Early Childhood Development Programmes.

66. Strategic plans on disability are included in our National Medium Term Strategies of
the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE).

F. Vulnerable persons

67. During the period under review in line with the key pillars of Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE), a National Steering Committee on Social Protection was established.

68. This committee is chaired by the Office of the President, hosted at the Department of Social Welfare. The committee meets quarterly since 2011 and has so far held two National Consultative Forums.

69. Training on Social Protection is provided to the members of the committee who are
representatives of Inter-Sectoral agencies; and consultation on the development of the Social Protection Policy Action Plan has started. This will ensure that a Social Protection floor is established where the most vulnerable members of society have access to basic social services such as education and health care. It has also developed an inter-agency hand book on child protection.

70. The Department of Social Welfare has also increased its financial resource allocation to provide welfare services to vulnerable members of the society, particularly children, women, the elderly and persons with disabilities. This has resulted to an increase in service delivery.

71. There however continues to be an increase in the demands for such services. Monthly cash transfer support is being provided for destitute elderly persons. 3800 destitute adults and children have been provided with health checks and health care services through the home base care and community outreach services.

72. The social workers also provide rehabilitation services and counseling to inmates at the female wing of the prisons and the juvenile wing. Follow-up care and family reintegration is also provided for young offenders.

 

G. Prisons

73. The Government has taken many measures to decongest prisons and to improve prison conditions and the social welfare of prisoners. In a bid to decongest the Mile 2 Prison, the Judiciary in 2013 organized special hearing dates for many prisoners at the remand wing. Their trials were conducted expeditiously and persons who had no sufficient evidence supporting their charges were discharged.

74. The Ministry of Interior in collaboration with the Prison Services Department has made tremendous efforts in the renovation of the security wing and increase in size of cells and cells allocation. The expansion program has been extended to Janjanbureh Prison

which is in the Central River Region of the country. It has been estimated that it will cost
the State the sum of D40 million upon completion. Over D1.9 Million has so far been spent on the renovation of the security wing which is at completion stage.

75. When completed, the building will cater for more prisoners and to a greater extent address the problem of overcrowding.

76. A monthly total food allowance for prisoners has also been increased to 1.5 Million Dalasis, as compared to the former prison service food provision of D650,000 in 2010. The Prison Services Department endeavors that all prisoners are well-fed with a balanced diet.

The food store has also been renovated to standard to avoid pests and contamination.

77. Furthermore, prisoners are treated in a dignified and humane manner from the time
of admission to time of discharge. Prisoners are informed of the regulations governing their
rights, and obligations while in prison. Torture of detainees and convicted prisoners is
prohibited.

78. A multi-sectoral prison`s committee is in existence and its function is to monitor the
affairs of prisoners, promote and protect their rights and interests.

79. The Prison Services Department has also taken practical steps to promote the reformation and social rehabilitation of prisoners. This is done through education and vocational training. In 2013 a furnished library for prisoners was built.

80. The State Central Prison has a multi-purpose workshop, where prisoners are trained in different livelihood skills such as tailoring, carpentry and construction. The other establishments, like Janjanbureh, Jeshwang and the Juvenile Wing have facilities built for educational purposes.

81. A qualified teacher is provided by the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education to teach young offenders detained at the juvenile wing at Jeshwang on a daily basis.

82. A qualified Doctor visits the prisons on a daily basis to provide medical services to sick inmates. A modern standard clinic was built in the State Central Prison and is currently in use. Well trained Community Health Nurses (CHN’s), State Enrolled Nurses (SEN’s) and Auxiliary nurses trained by the Government medical schools are also present to attend to inmates.

83. Prisoners also have access to their lawyers and visitors subject to the restrictions imposed by law. Diplomatic corps and civil society organizations have access to prisons

upon notification of Prison Authorities and in accordance with the rules and regulations
regulating the same. Prisoners also have access to letters from relatives/friends and some have a right to regular visits.

 

H. Judicial reforms

84. The Judiciary of The Gambia has undergone several reforms of recent which witnessed several structural and administrative reforms for the better dispensation of justice.

85. In ensuring that independence of the Judiciary under the Constitution of The Gambia
is further strengthened, the Judiciary of The Gambia has come up with a Judges (Remuneration Allowances And Other Benefits) Bill 2014 which is currently under consultation. As the title of the Bill indicates, the proposed legislation is to make provision for the terms and conditions of service of judges and for other matters connected therewith.

86. Such a piece of legislation would in no doubt enhance the security of tenure of judicial officers in the long run and contribute immensely to justice delivery services. A promotion policy has also been put in place to enhance justice delivery.

87. The Judiciary of The Gambia in its efforts to enhance access to justice and quality service delivery has re-structured the Judiciary. A second commercial court within the High Court has been established to deal with the ever mounting commercial cases filed in order to afford litigants more access to the courts.

88. A pre-trial court was established in 2013, tasked with dealing with all pre-trial matters in line with the new High Court (Amendment) Rules 2013. This procedure has created an expeditious settlement of issues to be determined at the trial and also gives the litigants the opportunity to settle their disputes at that stage. The resulting effect is that it allows the trial judges to concentrate on hearing of the substantive case and thereby enhancing the speedy conclusion of cases, resulting in speedy dispensation of justice.

89. The Court-connected Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) was introduced pursuant to Practice Direction No.1 of 2013 as part of practice and procedure for the High Court. The purpose of court-connected ADR is to reduce the back log of cases before a trial judge. In this regard litigants take control of the outcome of their cases. It is a confidential process and is without prejudice to the rights of litigants who subsequently opt to proceed to trial after exploring ADR. The court-connected ADR is under the purview of the Office of the Master of the High Court.

90. A Communication Unit has been established to provide access to information and would be the Judiciary’s avenue of communicating to the public at large and it is also tasked with the responsibility of raising awareness about the Judiciary and what it offers to the public.

91. The Judiciary still in its efforts to enhance service delivery and access to justice had set up additional courts, such as the Children’s Court in Brikama and Basse.

92. Magistrates courts have been established in all the regions in the country thereby bringing justice to the door steps of every resident in those regions. They have also been provided with the necessary needed resource materials to aid in the dispensation of their duties.

93. Three new Cadi ( Sharia) Courts have been established in Brikama (in the West Coast Region), Kerewan (North Bank Region) and Basse (Upper River Region) to increase access to those courts and to reduce the backlog of cases in the former three courts in Banjul (the Capital City) Kanifing (Kanifing Municipality) and Bundung (Kanifing Municipality). There are plans to operate in Bwiam and Mansakonko.

94. The Judiciary in its decentralisation process to bring access to justice nearer to the people intends to build new magistrates courts in the areas that have none. The High Court in Basse (Upper River Region) has been more institutionalised and it is of great relief to litigants who would ordinarily have had to travel all the way to Banjul to access a High Court.

95. In its effort to ensure the continuous access to justice, the Judiciary of The Gambia with the support from UNDP prepared a Compendium of all rules of Shariah Personal Law in Divorce, Marriage and Inheritance application in the Gambia. The main purpose of this document is to ensure that all laws relating to the personal laws of Muslims as provided for in the Constitution of The Gambia could be easily accessible. This compendium has been most useful particularly to Muslim women who sought redress from the Cadi (Sharia) courts.

96. In a bid to further ensure access to justice, The Judiciary again with the support of
UNDP contracted a consultant to develop and prepare rules of procedure for The Cadi
Appeals Panel and the Cadi Courts which were hitherto unavailable and training was
provided for all Cadis on the application said rules of procedure in their respective courts.
There is now a prescribed procedure in these courts which not only ensure order in
procedure but gives litigants the confidence to access these courts with the expectation that
like the conventional courts they too can get justice in these courts.

97. There has been more integration of the District Tribunals into the formal judicial
system and training of their clerks and scribes are ongoing.

98. With support of UNDP, Operational Manuals for the Sheriff Division and the Office of the Registrar have also been put in place to avail members of the public the necessary information required on how these offices work and what is expected of them. In addition to this the manuals also ensured that the holders of these offices know and are continuously trained on their roles and responsibilities are in the provision of the services required of them.

 

I. Combating human trafficking

99. The 2007 Trafficking in Persons Act created the National Agency against Trafficking in Persons (NAATIP). The Agency started operations on 1st December 2011.

Since the last reporting period, NAATIP has engaged in a country wide sensitisation
programme, enlightening the public on the dangers and legal consequences of trafficking in
persons.

100. It has also organised capacity building workshops for both law enforcement officers
and social workers in the areas of identification of trafficked victims, arrest procedures and
protection of victims among its activities. NATTIP engages in the protection, rehabilitation and counselling of victims. It also investigates and prosecutes trafficking cases.

101. During the period in review, the agency registered five reported cases, out of which
three were diligently investigated and one is currently under investigation. There are
however no successful prosecutions so far.

102. There is currently a four year Plan of Action from 2012–2016 and amongst which NAATIP considers Partnership and Collaboration as its priority areas. As a result, plans are underway to sign MOUs with Guinea Bissau, Ghana and Nigeria.

103. In February 2013, The Agency visited Dakar Senegal to collaborate and partner with International Organization for Migration (IOM), United Nations Office for drugs and Crimes (UNODC) and Senegalese National Authorities.

104. In December 2013 NAATIP signed an MOU with The Committee Against Trafficking in Persons (CNLTP) Republic of Senegal, again to partner in the fight against trafficking in persons.

105. During the period under review, NAATIP in collaboration with partners visited 4 border posts to raise Public Awareness of the border post officials on ways of identifying and dealing with the problems of trafficking in persons and victims.

106. A data base officer has been recruited to work on an accurate and synchronized data
system on Human Trafficking.

107. In June 2014 NAATIP organized a major sensitization walk to the Banjul and Gambia’s border to the south of Senegal which saw the participation of high government officials, security operatives, civil society organization, nongovernmental Organization and the local populace as well as officials of the National Committee against Trafficking in Persons Republic of Senegal.

J. Access to justice

108. The National Agency for Legal Aid (NALA) was established by an Act of the National Assembly in 2008 and was officially launched on 30th September 2010. The primary objective of the legal aid scheme is to ensure the provision of legal aid services to the poor and vulnerable members of society who cannot afford the services of a lawyer.

NALA extends its services to the provision of legal advice as well as legal representation in the courts of law in both criminal and civil matters in any court, police station or prisons.

109. The table below shows information on the number of legal aid representation cases made since the last reporting period which include cases of murder, armed robbery, rape,

treason, arson, abduction and possession of prohibited drugs.

Year Children’s court Superior courts
2013 15 112
2012 10 111
2011 30 72

110. The Agency has opened two legal aid centres in the regions of Basse (the Upper River Region) and Farafenni (North Bank Region) which are materially equipped and sufficiently staffed.

111. The Alternative Dispute Resolution Secretariat (ADRS) operates under the purview
of the Ministry of Justice. Its main function is to settle disputes. The mechanisms employed
by ADRS in dispute resolution are mediation, negotiation and conciliation. Between the
periods of June 2008 and June 2014 a total number of 577 cases were resolved by the
ADRS.

112. Two ADRS pilot centers were opened Farafenni and Basse. Both centers have
registered their own successes, in both the number of cases registered and the services
rendered.

113. In 2011, Farafenni registered 40 complaints most of which were concluded successfully. During the end of year M&E visit the M&E team met with some of the people that had utilized ADR or were brought to the centre as respondents to a complaint and all expressed their appreciation of the services rendered to them by the staff and for the way their cases were handled.

114. The Basse centre registered had 107 cases in 2011, 12 of which were mediated with the community mediators.

115. A training of community mediators had been conducted and a total of thirty mediators were trained in 2011 by the Secretariat. The services of some of the mediators trained in Basse were utilized almost immediately upon completion of their training. Basse covers a large area, some of which are not readily accessible to the ADR staff or very remote. The ten mediators in Basse were selected from different areas, thus giving the ADR staff wider coverage.

116. The system in place currently means that the community mediators log each complaint with the Basse office and mediate them in the villages. If they need to be assisted or need advice they contact the office for assistance and a member of staff will then go to the village. In instances where the community mediator is unable to resolve the dispute, the parties are then referred to the ADR office.

K. Freedom of speech, expression and assembly

117. The Constitution of The Gambia guarantees every person the right to freedom of
speech, expression and assembly.

118. The Gambia is committed to creating a conducive environment for the media to
operate freely and to ensure a free flow of information as provided for in the Constitution.

119. The right to freedom of expression is, however, not absolute. In addition to the
limitations to the rights enshrined in the Constitution, the Criminal Code creates the
offences of criminal libel and sedition. Civil libel is also regulated by the common law and
is therefore applicable in The Gambia by virtue of section 3 of the Law of England Application Act and section 7 of the Constitution.

120. Since 1994, there has been a steady increase in the number of radio stations (15 privately owned and 8 Community owned) and newspapers (5 daily and 2 weekly) in The Gambia.

Watch out for the final part!

Ends

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