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Resolution adopted without a vote by the IPU Council
at its 170th session (Marrakech, 23 March 2002)

The Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the outline of the case of Mr. Lamin Waa Juwara, a former member of the House of Representatives of the Gambia, as contained in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/170/13.c(ii)-R.1), and to the relevant resolution adopted at its 169th session (September 2001),

Taking into account the information provided by one of the sources on 5 November 2001, 27 February, 5 March and 20 March 2002,

Recalling that Mr. Juwara was subjected to frequent arbitrary arrests and incommunicado detention during the rule (1994-1996) of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC); a lawsuit against the competent authorities claiming compensation for the human rights violations he suffered was dismissed by the Judge on 29 July 1998, who ruled that the matter was not subject to the jurisdiction of the courts, having regard to Section 13 of Schedule 2 to the 1997 Constitution, which guarantees AFPRC officers immunity from prosecution in respect of any act or omission in the performance of their official duties,

Recalling also that Mr. Juwara was re-arrested on 17 May 1998 and severely ill-treated - as attested by a medical certificate - while held incommunicado until 8 June 1998; no action has been taken to prosecute the culprits although their identity seems to be publicly known; on 22 February 1999, the Brikama Magistrate’s Court acquitted Mr. Juwara of the charges, namely damaging construction works at a Mosque in Brikama, which had prompted his arrest, having found that there was no case against him and his co-accused; however, the State appealed against that decision,

Considering in this respect that a notice of withdrawal had reportedly been given for all the accused; however, as Mr. Juwara wished to file a counter action of unlawful arrest, detention and torture, the State had withdrawn the notice in his case, which as a result was still pending, a hearing having been set first for 4 March 2002 at Banjul High Court and twice adjourned, first to 20 and then to 28 March 2002,

Considering, moreover, that on 20 October 2001, Mr. Juwara’s home was reportedly the target of an arson attack by members of the Youth Wing of the APRC; although he filed a complaint with the police, no action has reportedly been taken to date; Mr. Juwara is reportedly subject to continuous surveillance and may be forced to go underground for fear of his life,

Recalling finally that the former Speaker expressed the view that the National Assembly could not intervene in the case of Mr. Juwara as it had no "juridical" powers or responsibility,

Recalling that the Gambia is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 2, paragraph 3, of which guarantees the right to an effective remedy of any person whose rights or freedoms under the Covenant have been violated, "notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity", and enshrines the right to freedom from torture, the right to liberty and the right to compensation of anyone who has been the victim of unlawful arrest or detention in its Article 7, and Article 9, paragraphs 1 and 5, respectively,

Bearing finally in mind that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action which the international community adopted at the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993 stipulates that "States should abrogate legislation leading to impunity for those responsible for grave violations of human rights such as torture and prosecute such violations, thereby providing a firm basis for the rule of law"; bearing in mind also that impunity itself constitutes a violation of international law,

  1. Condemns the constitutionally enshrined impunity granted to members of the former Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) as it runs counter to international human rights law and, in the case in question, not only shields from accountability the perpetrators of Mr. Juwara's torture and those responsible for the many violations of his right to liberty, but also deprives him of his right to legal redress and to compensation under Article 2, paragraph 3, and Article 9, paragraph 5, of the ICCPR;
  2. Expresses concern at the alleged arson attack on Mr. Juwara’s home; urges the authorities to act upon Mr. Juwara's complaint and investigate it with all due diligence and thoroughness, as their duty requires;
  3. Reaffirms that Parliament is uniquely positioned to lay the foundations for the fight against impunity by establishing an effective legal framework for the purpose and by ensuring that the executive branch complies with such legislation, in addition to its international obligations in this field;
  4. Forcefully calls therefore upon the Parliament of the Gambia to assume these responsibilities to the full by amending legal provisions which run counter to international law and by ensuring respect for the human rights of all citizens, including Mr. Juwara;
  5. Fails to understand, in the light of the evidence on file, the grounds on which the prosecution can possibly uphold, with respect to Mr. Juwara alone, its appeal against the Court's dismissal of the Brikama Mosque case; wishes to be kept informed of the outcome of the court hearing of 20 March 2002;
  6. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the parliamentary and governmental authorities, as well as to Mr. Juwara; also requests the Secretary General to forward it to the competent United Nations human rights bodies, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the European Parliament;
  7. Requests the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session (September 2002).

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