Emmanuel Joof, Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has strongly condemned statement said to have been made by Henry Gomez, President Barrow’s youth adviser, during a rally in Brikama on Saturday 16 June.

Mr Gomez was reported to have told the rally that would-be protesters risk being shot if they went ahead with proposed plan to demonstrate against President Barrow in a bid to force him to honour his Coalition agreement to step down after three years in office.

However the National Human Rights Commission has condemned Mr Gomez statement. In a press release issued on Tuesday, the Commission states that they “would like to reiterate the fact that people have a right to freedom of expression, assembly and to demonstrate peacefully. These are fundamental rights guaranteed in our constitution and under regional and international treaties and conventions that we have ratified.

Henry Gomez, the president’s advise on youth is accused to have threatened woul-be protesters with ‘violence’

“The fact that people are demonstrating or wish to do so does not mean that they are riotous or that they are criminals. To threaten would be demonstrators with bullets is unbecoming of a Presidential Adviser and should be condemned in the strongest terms. Such language is not one which is or should be permitted in a democratic society.

“The NHRC urges all and every Gambian including politicians, security personnel the youths and everyone to be law abiding and follow due process in their actions. Never again will Gambians allow oppression and / or fear to take hold in our society.”

In a similar vein the Commission also strongly condemned the recent caste-based clashes among the Serahuleh community in Koina.

“The NHRC not only condemns any and all forms of discrimination against anyone within the soil of the Gambia but also wants to make it categorically clear that it is illegal and unlawful under the laws of the Gambia and all the international treaties and conventions that the Gambia has ratified for anyone to discriminate against anybody based on tribe, ethnicity, race, gender, religion and or social status.

“The NHRC is therefore calling on all community leaders, religious leaders, opinion leaders, elders, civil and public servants and the citizenry to be very wary and to desist from making discriminatory statements and or engaging in discriminatory practices,” the release states.

The National Human Rights Commission, established by an Act of the National Assembly in 2017, is an independent and permanent institution which is mandated to promote, monitor, investigate and protect human rights, as well as create a culture of human rights in The Gambia.

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