ARTICLE 19 together with the Committee to Protect Journalists and Access Now, have jointly submitted a civil society shadow report for consideration ahead of the third UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Gambia. The report examines progress made, and makes recommendations on, the following freedom of expression priorities:
- International and regional human rights mechanisms;
- Constitutional safeguards and reform processes
- Media freedoms and legislative limitations on free expression
- Access to information
- Freedom of peaceful assembly and association
- Creation of independent human rights institutions and transitional justice mechanisms.
Since its human rights record was last reviewed by UN Member States in 2014, significant political changes have taken place in the Gambia. Landmark democratic elections in 2016, resulted in a political and constitutional crisis when President Yahya Jammeh refused to relinquish his 22-year grip on power to the opposition candidate and victor, Adama Barrow. Following robust engagement from regional and international actors, a peaceful transfer of power ultimately took place in January 2017.
The government of Adama Barrow ushered in a period of optimism, and change, with the initial release of political prisoners, the return of journalists who had long been in exile, and robust commitments to break with the past and ensure a new approach to governance underpinned by respect for human rights and supported by needed legal reforms.
However, progress on implementing the legal and institutional reforms necessary to safeguard freedom of expression and information has been slow. The Universal Periodic Review provides a vital opportunity for the Gambia to reinvigorate its reform agenda, including to accept specific recommendations on freedom of expression.
The Universal Periodic Review of the Gambia is due to take place on 5 November 2019.