NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION, THE GAMBIA
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) joins the rest of the world to commemorate International Human Rights Day on 10thDecember 2020, under the theme “Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights”.
2020 has been an unprecedented year, with the COVID-19 pandemic having a devastating impact on families, societies and economies of countries the world over. To stem the ravages of the pandemic, The Gambia imposed a State of public emergency and restrictions on the movements of people and goods which consequently affected livelihoods and diminished certain fundamental human rights of the people. Vulnerable and marginalized groups such as persons with disabilities, women, children, the elderly, the poor and unemployed were, and continue to be, hardest hit. The social exclusion of persons with disabilities was exacerbated and anecdotal evidence points to an increase in violence against women and children.
While the Commission recognizes the tremendous efforts of the Government in ameliorating the effects of COVID-19 on the population through the provision of cash transfers and relief supplies to vulnerable families and financial stimulus packages to businesses and other enterprises, it wishes to reiterate that premium consideration should always be given to persons with disabilities, women, children,prisoners and the elderly in every emergency intervention undertaken by the Government.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore not just States’ obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the fundamental human rights of the people but more importantly, it illustrates why human rights must be at the center of every recovery effort, whether by State or non-State actors. We can only ‘recover better’ when we create equal opportunities for all people, develop and implement strategies, pro-poor policies and programmes which are anchored on human rights norms, standards and approaches, tackle head-on factors which engender gender based violence, exclusion and discrimination, and make every voice count in decision making at all levels. In human rights and its observance and fulfilment, we have a sure way to minimize the negative impact of COVID-19 and support vulnerable groups and communities ‘recover better’.
As part of this year’s commemoration, the Commission is staging the finals of the first ever Moot Court Competition organized for students of the Law Faculty of the University of The Gambia, dubbed ‘Sir
Dawda Kairaba Jawara Moot Court Competition’. The aim is not just to celebrate the life and time of first President of the Republic and his giant strides in the promotion of human rights but also to stimulate the interests of students in human rights works and generate public debate on human rights themes.
As we commemorate this important Day which witnessed the birth of the premier human rights document, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the NHRC wishes to reassure the public of its unwavering commitment to its mandate of promoting and protecting human rights in The Gambia, core values and its Motto which is ‘Let Justice Guide Our Actions’. Together we can build a culture of respect for human rights in The Gambia. And We Can!!!!
Signed: Emmanuel D. Joof
National Human Rights Commission