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. Omar Jallow, of the Gambia, 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 communications from Mr. Jallow dated 19 February and 29 March 2000,

Considering the following information on file:

  • Mr. Jallow was detained without charge several times in 1994 and 1995 and is at present banned under Decree 89 (Political Activities Resumption Decree, 1996) from “(…) participating in any political activity or in sponsoring any (a) person contesting any election for a political office, (b) political party, or (c) political organisation”; the Decree bans for an indefinite period from any such activity, among others, “all persons who held the offices of President, Vice-President and Ministers in the Government of the Republic of the Gambia during the thirty years preceding 22 July 1994”; under its Article 4, paragraph 1, “any person who contravenes this Decree commits an offence and shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for life”;
  • In August 1998, the parliamentary opposition tabled an amendment in Parliament to abolish the Decree by means of an Act amending the “Political Activities Resumption Decree” with the express aim of bringing the law into conformity with the Constitution's fundamental human rights guarantees; it failed, however, to obtain the requisite majority in Parliament;
  • On 8 July 1999, Mr. Jallow filed a lawsuit in the High Court of the Gambia seeking a judicial interpretation of Decree 89 and a declaration that he is entitled to exercise the fundamental human rights guaranteed under the Constitution of the Gambia,

Considering that, according to Mr. Jallow, the case was heard on 20, 21 and 29 March 2000; the Attorney General's Chamber questioned the competence of the court to hear the case and the Judge has now to rule on this point,

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 of expression, assembly and association; 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, in view of its serious concerns in this case, only a direct exchange of views with the competent authorities and the former MP concerned 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 competent parliamentary, governmental, administrative and judicial authorities, from Mr. Jallow 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.

Note: you can download a complete electronic version of the brochure "Results of the 103rd Conference and related meetings of the Inter-Parliamentary Union" in PDF format (file size approximately 410K). 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