United Nations Human Rights special rapporteur on promotion and protection of human rights and freedom has tapped Africa as his top priority region to help promote rights and counter terrorism.

Ben Saul, who took office six months ago, is in the Gambia to meet government officials and civil society groups.

In a meeting with civil society groups at the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, the trained lawyer said: “I’m keen to focus more on Africa than some of my predecessors. So, here in West [and] Central Africa will be quite an important focus.”

He added that his priority for the next three years to come would be on “regional organisation in countering terrorism. So, here in Africa, of course the African Union has a counter terrorism treaty with various institutions involved in countering terrorism.”

“Other issues I’m concerned about are what we call the world of administrative measures in countering terrorism. So, these are things not ordered by criminal court, but which restrict people’s rights and liberty in the name of countering terrorism. So, that could be like security border measures, it could be home detention or curfews, it could be the use of surveillance technology, stripping off citizenship of foreign fighters who go to Syria or Iraq. So, this is an area where the states have been increasingly using this sort of restrictive powers outside the criminal court system,” he added.

Reporting by Adama Makasuba

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