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The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UNWGEID) on Monday released its preliminary report on the human rights situation in the Gambia after 8 days official visit to the west African country, held at the UN house at Cape Point, Bakau.

The delegation was composed of the Chair of the UNWGEID, Ms. Houria Es-Slami, and Mr. Henrikas Mickevicius, member of the UNWGEID.

“The UNWGEID has received information from the Government, victims, and civil society organizations and discussed with all stakeholders the measures to prevent and eradicate enforced disappearances, as well as issues related to truth, justice and reparation for the victims,” she said.

The Chair of UNWGEID said they met relatives of disappeared persons and also held a meeting with representatives of civil society including NGOs, human rights defenders and lawyers.

She said they visited the greater Banjul area and the burial sites in Tanji and in the Titinba Forest (Foni region) as well as the Mile 2 Prison and the SIS (former NIA) building. She said they had also attended a meeting of the National Council for Civic Education’s (NCCE) dialogue session for the Kanilai community.

Over the years, the UNWGEID has transmitted 12 cases of enforced disappearances to the Government of the Gambia, of which 4 are still outstanding. The cases relate to disappearances occurred between 2006 and 2015, with one case concerning a disappearance allegedly occurred in 1995, reportedly perpetrated mainly by officers of the former National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

“The eight individuals whose cases were clarified were released from detention. As in virtually all countries facing the issue of enforced disappearances, also in the Gambia the number of cases reported to the UNWGEID is not illustrative of the real dimension of the problem,” she said.

Slami said this is also recognized by the authorities, who have described this practice as widespread in the past. She noted that a number of new cases have been received by the UNWGEID during the visit. She said victims of enforced disappearances also reportedly include more than 40 migrants from Ghana who would have disappeared after having been arrested in July 2005.

“Today, the Gambian Government has the challenge and the opportunity to undertake a comprehensive set of measures towards the achievement of democratic and constitutional reforms, including of the security sector and the judiciary, and the full respect of rule of law and human rights, including the rights to truth, justice, reparations, memory and guarantees of non-repetition for the victims of human rights violations, their families and the Gambian society as a whole,” she said.

Slami added that the UNWGEID welcomes with satisfaction the current Government’s commitment and resolve to address the problem of enforced disappearances in the Gambia, reiterated during many of the meetings held, including by the highest authorities of the country. She assured that the UNWGEID is ready to support the Gambian Government and society in this process.

The former government of the Gambia led by ex-president Yahya Jammeh has been accused of disappearing so many Gambians including journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh and the two American citizens. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh