Resolution adopted without a vote by the Inter-Parliamentary Council
at its 163rd session (Moscow, 12 September 1998)

The Inter-Parliamentary Council,

Referring to the outline of the case, as contained in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/163/12(a)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 162nd session (April 1998) concerning the case of Mr. Lamin Waa Juwara, a member of the House of Representatives of the Gambia dissolved in 1994,

Taking account of a communication from the Attorney General's Chambers and Department of State for Justice dated 27 August 1998, conveying copy of the judgment regarding Mr. Juwara's lawsuit and the charge sheet filed in respect of him in June 1998 in Brikama Magistrate's Court,

Also taking account of the information provided by one of the sources on 27 August 1998,

Recalling that Mr. Juwara was arrested on 25 January 1996 for the fifth time since Parliament's dissolution in July 1994; that his whereabouts were unknown until, on 6 December 1996, the source stated that he was held in Central Prison Mile Two in Banjul without any charges having ever been brought against him; that he was finally released on 3 February 1997; that on 30 June 1997 he filed a lawsuit against the Attorney General, the Secretary of State for the Interior, the Inspector General of Police and the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, claiming compensation for the many arbitrary arrests and detentions he had suffered at the hands of officials acting under State authority,

Considering that on 29 July 1998, Justice Robin-Coker of the High Court ruled that the alleged conduct of the defendants in this action was not justiciable and therefore dismissed the suit; that his ruling is based on Section 13 of Schedule 2 of the 1997 Constitution, which guarantees members of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) and its officers impunity in respect of any act or omission in the performance of their duties under the AFPRC administration lasting, according to the judgment, from 22 July 1994 until 16 January 1997 when the new Constitution entered into force; that, regarding Mr. Juwara's detention from 26 January 1996 until 3 February 1997, that is, after the entry into force of the new Constitution, the judge held that " the failure to release this plaintiff from detention 16 days after the entry into force of the 1997 Constitution is not fatal to the immunity provided by Section 13 of Schedule 2 of the Constitution. ",

Considering that Mr. Juwara was re-arrested without any arrest warrant on the night of 18 May 1998 at his home and held incommunicado until the Supreme Court ordered his release on bail on 8 June 1998 on the proviso that he might not leave the country without previously informing the judicial authorities,

Considering that, according to newspaper reports relying on Mr. Juwara's statements and carrying photographs, he was tortured while in detention, as a result of which he suffered serious injuries; that he was denied medical treatment reportedly on orders from the Secretary of State for the Interior; considering in this connection that, according to the authorities, investigations are under way,

Considering that, according to the sources, six hours after Mr. Juwara's arrest, the Imam of the Mosque of Brikama, his brother and son were arrested and that they all, including Mr. Juwara, were arraigned in Brikama Magistrate's Court and, in June 1998, charged with " conspiracy to cause unlawful damage to property " and " causing unlawful damage to property " on account of " wilful and unlawful damage to construction works at the Brikama mosque ",

Considering that, according to the sources, Mr. Juwara's arrest is unrelated to the mosque incident but is rather to be seen as a means of disrupting the opposition United Democratic Party Congress - Mr. Juwara is a member of its Executive Committee - which was scheduled to be held from 28 to 31 May 1998 in Brikama,

Considering finally that, according to the sources, the authorities continue to refuse to issue him a passport; recalling in this connection that, on 8 April 1998, the Attorney General's Chambers and Department of State for Justice reported that the immigration authorities had been authorised to issue Mr. Juwara with a new passport despite the fact that he had not applied for one,

Mindful of the many resolutions of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, most recently resolution 1998/53, which recognises that, for the victims of human rights violations, public knowledge of their suffering and the truth about perpetrators of these violations are essential steps towards rehabilitation and reconciliation, and urges States to intensify their efforts to provide victims of human rights violations with a fair and equitable procedure whereby such violations can be investigated and made public and to encourage victims to participate therein,

  1. Thanks the Attorney General and Secretary of State for Justice for her co-operation;
  2. Is outraged at Mr. Juwara's renewed arrest and incommunicado detention in May 1998 seemingly on no proper legal basis;
  3. Expresses deep concern at the serious allegations of his torture while in State custody, and earnestly hopes that the investigations under way will permit the rapid identification and punishment of those responsible for this criminal act;
  4. Recalls that under Articles 9 and 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Articles 6 and 5 of the African Charter of Human and Peoples' Rights, to both of which the Gambia is a party, as well as Articles 9 and 6 of the Constitution of the Gambia, no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention and no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
  5. Notes that Mr. Juwara together with others has been charged with conspiring to cause and actually causing damage to construction works; wishes to ascertain the facts adduced to substantiate these charges and to be kept informed of the relevant judicial proceedings;
  6. Urges the authorities to ensure that Mr. Juwara and the others are given a fair trial and may fully enjoy their right to defend themselves;
  7. Is concerned that Mr. Juwara is still refused a passport, and wishes to ascertain the legal grounds for this restriction on his freedom of movement;
  8. Expresses deep concern at the provision in Section 13(1) of Schedule 2 to the 1997 Constitution in that it establishes impunity, and recalls that the United Nations has consistently urged States to combat impunity and take the necessary action to this end;
  9. Recalls also that the Gambia, as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, is under an obligation to respect the enforceable right of any victim of unlawful arrest or detention to compensation;
  10. Notes that Mr. Juwara will lodge an appeal against the ruling of the High Court on the lawsuit he filed claiming compensation for the many unlawful arrests and detentions he has suffered, and hopes that this question will finally be ruled on in accordance with the international human rights norms to which the Gambia has subscribed;
  11. Requests the Secretary General to convey this decision to the competent authorities, including the Attorney General and Secretary of State for Justice and the Secretary of State for the Interior, and to invite them to supply the information sought;
  12. Requests the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to continue examining the case and report to it at its next session (April 1999).

Note: you can download a complete electronic version of the brochure "Results of the 100th Conference and related meetings of the Inter-Parliamentary Union" in PDF format (file size approximately 570K). This version requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, which you can download free of charge.Get Acrobat Reader

Human rights of parliamentarians | Home page | Main areas of activity | Structure and functioning