Gambia has no plans to decriminalize same-sex, Government said in its submission to the 34th session of the United National Human Rights Council Working Group.
The Universal Periodic Review is a mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States.
Prior to Gambia’s appearance before the UN body which is currently ongoing, several pro-rights organisations including the National Human Rights Commission and the Gambia Press Union have made submissions to the UN body over the human rights situation in the country. Among the concerns, Gambia has been facing is the criminalization of same-sex marriages.
In 2014, former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh has signed a bill into law that calls for life imprisonment for some homosexual acts.
“LGBTQ is not largely accepted in the Gambia and the Government does not plan to decriminalise it…,” said the Government. However, the Government said the “Aggravated homosexuality law” is “partially implemented”.
“However, through the transitional justice process, all repressive and discriminatory laws will be reviewed and repealed, thereby creating an enabling environment for human right defenders,” stated the Government.
Gambia concludes its review on Tuesday. Meanwhile, in its submissions on prison conditions in the country, the Government said the “Prisons Act, Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Codes are under review to align them with best practices”.
“There is a plan to relocate Mile II prison Central Prison from its present location to Jambur, Kombo South, West Coast Region of the Gambia,” said the Government.
“A skills training centre has been established at the Mile 2 prisons where electrical installation, sewing, information technology and carpentry courses are taught.
“There is a library for prisoners at Mile II Prisons and Janjanbureh. Recreational facilities such as volleyball and football areas are available to prisoners at Mile II and Janjanbureh prison, enabling prisoners engage in leisure activities.
“A prison visiting committee under the auspices of the Ministry of Interior has been constituted and, amongst others, monitors the feeding, health and sanitation facilities at the prisons.
“All prisoners are entitled to three meals daily. There is a system for isolation of persons with communicable diseases.
“There is a clinic facility and a nurse within the prison for the treatment of minor ailments of prisoners.
“Despite the above measures to improve conditions, the Government acknowledges that more needs to be done to effectively address conditions in places of detention.”
Government’s submissions were silent on a number of alleged violations that happened in the recent past. These include the killing of Huruna Jatta, the alleged killing of Kebba Secka and allegation of police brutality, among others.
The Government also fell far short in explaining what is being done about the Faraba shootings. The police who have shot the villagers have not been charged and no family have received state compensations so far.
With regards to the Faraba incident, the Government only said “a Commission of Inquiry was established to investigate the loss of lives and causes of incident. The Commission has submitted its report for consideration by the Government.”