Hamat

Hamat Bah biting the Jammeh regime!

The leader of the opposition National Reconciliation Party (NRP) has scolded the Gambia government for its refusal to allow United Nations special investigators full access to the country’s prisons.

The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, and the Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan Méndez, were denied access to detention centres where prisoners are believed to be at high risk of torture.

Hamat Bah wondered why the Gambia would invite the inspectors, only to deny them access to prisons.

“They came here at the invitation of the government for which they must be commended for committing to making sure that information needed was made available to these people so that they can go back and write a comprehensive report with a view to try to improve the image of the country outside,” Mr. Bah told journalists at a press conference in his party’s headquarters last week.

“The image of the country is immensely battered when it comes to human rights. Whether we like it or not that is the fact. We thought that was a good idea and a new opening for the Gambia government to the international community and all other human rights agencies. But unfortunately, when these investigators were wrapping up, they gave us some disturbing news that they were obstructed and prevented from doing their job as they had wanted to. They wanted access to the security wing at Mile 2 but unfortunately were not allowed there. They were not allowed access to the detainees and meet those on death row.”

The former parliamentarian described the Gambia’s refusal order as “a very serious misjudgment. Whoever might have given that instruction didn’t know the repercussion that can bring to the government of the Gambia. It was a serious mistake for them to do that. It was also wrong. You cannot invite somebody and obstruct him from doing the job he was supposed to do. They knew in advance what the investigators wanted to do. Bah is convinced that the Gambia government will pay a heavy price for what has tainted the image of the country and its investment portfolio. “It is a sad moment for us. It would have been better to allow them do their investigation, make their report and see how best to address the concerns raised and work on recommendations.”

Bah said the Jammeh government’s failure to read history can be too costly, citing the case of Ghana under military Jerry Rawlings, when a lot of atrocities, including the killing of pregnant female judges, happened. He said these atrocities came to light when the government opened up thus paving way for Rawlings to rebuild himself as a democrat. Rawlings left office and allowed democracy to spiral in Ghana, which is now seen as a model of democracy. “Rawlings is now living as a free and happy man in Accra,” Bah said.

“This is a very grave situation. The North Korea issue was today referred to the Security Council to see whether they could be indicted by the ICC. North Korea is lobbying to do everything to remedy the situation. North Korea is lobbying journalists and human rights activists for a better picture of their country. If North Korea could make a u-turn fearing the consequences of what is going to happen to them, they should act before it is too late by making sure that they ask these people to come back and give them access to where they want to be and then address whatever the way forward is. As a concerned citizen, we want this issue to be addressed according to UN rules because we are members.”

Ends

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