Gambian human rights organization has added its voice to the chorus of appeal for the unconditional release of protesting Gunjur youths. The youths have been held in police custody after they protested against the presence of Golden Lead, a Chinese fish processing company, accusing of causing environmental destruction in the coastal town.

Read below the press release issued by the Centre for Human Rights and Development.

PRESS STATEMENT ON THE ARREST OF YOUTH OF GUNJUR

Centre for Human Rights and Development (CHRD)wishes to express their dissatisfaction on the arrest and continuous detention of environmental concerned youth protesters in the Coastal Town of Gunjur. CHRD call on the Inspector General of Police and the Government of the Republic of the Gambia to immediately facilitate the unconditional release of those arrestees and drop all the charges against them. Section 19 (1) of the Constitution of the Gambia states that, Every person shall have the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary, arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his or her liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedures as are established by law. Therefore, we urge the government to adhere to the constitutional dictates to facilitate the release of these group of young people are stand up to protect their environment and sharp a better future for themselves and next generation to come.

The right to peaceful demonstration is fundamental human rights and must be respected. Section 25 subsection 1(d) of the constitution of the Gambia states that every person shall have the right to freedom to assemble and demonstrate peaceably and without arms. In line with this section of the constitution of the Gambia, these young people are just exercising their constitutional rights to show their grievances which should be great concern to every patriotic citizen of the Gambia. This is their fundamental human rights and these are inalienable right to freedom of expression which enshrined in the Constitution of the Gambia as well the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. CHRD further call on the government to address the matter of Golden Leads dumping of waste product in the sea with the sole aim of solving the matter immediately. Protection of environment is paramount to meeting the development aspirations of the Gambia which should not be compromise in any way.

The arbitrary arrest and detention should be a thing of the past. The Gambia’s Constitution explicitly provides for ‘the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances’. These includes right protect your right to peaceful march pass, leaflet, parade, circulate petitions and ask for signatures, and other forms of peaceful protest. People have the right to express grievances in a peaceful manner without seeking for permit. What is expected of the Police is provide security for them; without dispersing them. Arrest can only be done where the protest turns violent and life and properties are at risk.

On that note, CHRD seek for immediate release of these young people without delay and drop every charge against them. They are unjustly arrested because they are exercising their constitutional right. We therefore urge the government to take this matter seriously and solve it as soon as possible. Dumping of WASTE PRODUCT in the sea is unethical and it does not match with the standards of protecting marine lives and environment in all aspect. We should be concern to meet the needs of the present generation without jeopardizing the needs of the future generation. Government, please adhere to the guiding principle of Sustainable Development Goals and put them in to practice.

Executive Director of Center for Human Rights and Development

Mr. Yaya Dampha

Ends

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