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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Council
at its 171st session (Geneva, 27 September 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/171/12(a)-R.1), and to the relevant resolution adopted at its 170th session (March 2002),

Taking account of the information provided by one of the sources on 13 August 2002,

Recalling the following elements on file:

  • Owing to Section 13 of Schedule 2 to the 1997 Constitution, which guarantees officers of the former Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) immunity from prosecution in respect of any act or omission in the performance of their official duties, Mr. Juwara cannot obtain compensation for the many arbitrary arrests and detentions he suffered under AFPRC rule;

  • Mr. Juwara was re-arrested in May 1998 and, while in the hands of the police, beaten up by a person whose identity is a matter of public knowledge, Mr. Baba Jobe; medical evidence attesting the torture has been provided; however, the authorities have taken no action on his complaint;

  • A case brought against him and others for allegedly damaging construction works at the Brikama Mosque was dismissed by the trial judge in July 1998; the Attorney General lodged an appeal which he later withdrew against all defendants except Mr. Juwara, reportedly because the latter intended to file a counter action of unlawful arrest, torture and detention; by mid-August 2002 the case had not been heard;

  • On 20 October 2001, Mr. Juwara's home was the target of an arson attack reportedly committed by members of the AFPRC Youth Wing; a complaint he filed with the police has not been acted upon; he is reportedly subject to continuous surveillance and fears for his life,

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, and enshrines in Articles 7 and 9, paragraphs 1 and 5, respectively, the right to freedom from torture, the right to liberty and the right to compensation of anyone who has been a victim of unlawful arrest or detention,

Bearing in mind that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action which the international community adopted at the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993 stipulate 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. Deplores the lack of cooperation from the authorities, in particular the new Parliament;

  2. Can but infer from this that the allegations before it are indeed true, which may well compel it to conclude that the authorities are indeed guilty of a violation of Mr. Juwara's human rights, in particular (i) his right to liberty and to compensation for the arbitrary arrests he suffered; (ii) his right to freedom from torture and his right to justice, the authorities failing to act on his legitimate complaints; and (iii) his right to equal treatment before the law, the authorities arbitrarily failing to withdraw a case against him;

  3. Considers that in patently failing to investigate complaints about such serious criminal acts as torture and arson attacks, particularly when the identity of the culprits is a matter of public knowledge, the authorities may well become accomplices in the crimes in question;

  4. Calls yet again on the authorities, in particular Parliament as a guardian of human rights, to take action so as to ensure compliance with the obligations of the Gambia under the ICCPR, and to remedy the abuses suffered by Mr. Juwara;

  5. Once more urges Parliament to this end to abrogate Section 13 of Schedule 2 to the 1997 Constitution, which enshrines impunity and prevents Gambian citizens, including Mr. Juwara, from obtaining the redress to which they are entitled for the human rights violations they suffered;

  6. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the parliamentary and governmental authorities, as well as to Mr. Juwara, and 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 (April 2003).

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