Resolution adopted without a vote by the Inter-Parliamentary Council
at its 166th session (Amman, 6 May 2000)

The Inter-Parliamentary Council,

Referring to the outline of the case of Mr. Lamin Waa Juwara, a member of the House of Representatives of the Gambia dissolved in 1994, as contained in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/166/16(c)­R.1), and to the relevant resolution adopted at its 165th session (October 1999),

Taking account of the communication from the Office of the Attorney General and Secretary of State for Justice of 12 November 1999, and of communications from the source dated 20 January and 1 and 8 February 2000,

Considering the following information on file:

  • On 29 July 1998, the High Court rejected Mr. Juwara's claim for compensation for the many arbitrary arrests and periods of detention he had suffered at the hands of officials acting under the authority of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC), which took power after Parliament's dissolution in 1994, and ruled that the alleged conduct of the defendants in this action was not subject to the jurisdiction of the courts, since Section 13 of Schedule 2 of the 1997 Constitution guaranteed members of the AFPRC and its officers and appointees immunity from any prosecution in respect of any act or omission attributable to them under the AFPRC administration;
  • Mr. Juwara was re-arrested at his home without an arrest warrant on the night of 18 May 1998 and held incommunicado until the Supreme Court ordered his release on bail on 8 June 1998. On the night of his arrest, Mr. Juwara was subjected to severe ill-treatment by security agents, sustaining serious injuries as a result; he was reportedly denied any medical care while in prison;
  • In June 1998 Mr. Juwara, together with others, was arraigned in Brikama Magistrate's Court and 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”; on 22 February 1999, the Brikama Magistrate's Court acquitted them, ruling that there was no case to answer; the State nevertheless filed an appeal against that judgment which was reportedly published for hearing at the High Court on 14 February 2000,

Considering that, while in her letter of 12 November 1999, the Attorney General and Secretary of State for Justice stated, in regard to the allegation of torture made against certain officials, that the police were still investigating the matter and were expected to submit their report very shortly, Mr. Juwara asserts that no such investigation has been undertaken,

Recalling that, by letter dated 23 September 1999, referring to the Committee's earlier invitation to a hearing, the Attorney General's Chambers and Department of State for Justice stated that “it was now the official position of the Gambia Government to do its utmost to endeavour to meet the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, through the Honourable Attorney General or her representative, to facilitate a direct exchange of views”; that her Office, in a letter dated 8 October 1999, reaffirmed “its commitment to meet the Committee at a later session ...”; noting, however, that the Office has not responded to the invitations to a hearing which the Committee extended to it in connection with its 88th session in January 2000 and its present session on the occasion of the 103rd Conference,

Bearing in mind that the Gambia is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, both of which guarantee freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, in addition to freedom from torture and ill-treatment; that these rights are also enshrined in the Constitution of the Gambia, Section 4 of which stipulates that “... any other law found to be inconsistent with any provision of this Constitution shall, to the extent of its inconsistency, be void”; considering that, according to Decree 31 (National Goals and Objectives Decree, 1995), adherence to the principles and objectives of, inter alia, the United Nations “shall remain the cornerstone of the Foreign Policy of the Gambia”,

  1. Deeply regrets that the authorities, despite their stated commitment, have taken no action concerning the invitation extended to them by the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to meet with it;
  2. Believes that its serious concerns in this case warrant a direct exchange of views with the competent authorities and the former MP concerned, which would permit progress towards its satisfactory settlement;
  3. Requests the Committee to carry out an on-site mission for the purpose of gathering from the appropriate parliamentary, governmental, administrative and judicial authorities, from Mr. Juwara himself, his family and his lawyers and from appropriate human rights organisations, as much detailed information as possible on all aspects of this case;
  4. Trusts that the idea of such a mission will be well received by the authorities, and requests the Secretary General to take the necessary steps to organise such a mission in the near future;
  5. Requests the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session (October 2000) in the light of such information as the mission may gather.

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