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Resolution adopted unanimously by the Governing Council
at its 173rd session (Geneva, 3 October 2003)

The Governing 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/173/11(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 171st session (September 2002),

Recalling that, following the coup d'Etat of July 1994 and the dissolution of Parliament, Mr. Juwara was arbitrarily detained on many occasions; he was again arrested in May 1998 and, on that occasion, severely ill-treated; he was accused, along with others, of damaging construction works at Brikama Mosque; in July 1998 the judge dismissed the case, but the State appealed against the verdict with respect to him alone; on 20 October 2001, his house was the target of an arson attack and no action has reportedly been taken on his complaint about it,

Considering that the authorities have taken no steps to:

  • repeal legal provisions enshrining impunity for all office-holders of the former Armed Forces Ruling Council, thereby preventing Mr. Juwara from obtaining redress for the many arbitrary detentions he suffered during the rule of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC);

  • bring to justice the person who beat up Mr. Juwara in May 1998 and the police officers who stood by without intervening;

  • conclude the Brikama Mosque case, which was dismissed by the trial judge in July 1998 but pursued through an appeal lodged by the State against Mr. Juwara alone;

  • investigate the arson attack on Mr. Juwara's home perpetrated in October 2001,

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 effective remedy for 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 for anyone who has been a victim of unlawful arrest or detention,

Recalling further 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"; recalling also that impunity itself constitutes a violation of international law,

  1. Deplores the lack of cooperation from the authorities, in particular Parliament;

  2. Deplores the failure of Parliament to avail itself of its legislative function to abrogate Section 13 of Schedule 2 to the 1997 Constitution and thus to ensure compliance of national law with the Gambia's international legal obligations;

  3. Is compelled to conclude that:

       (i) in failing to abrogate legislation enshrining impunity and to provide redress for the victims of human rights violations committed under AFPRC rule, the State of the Gambia is violating Mr. Juwara's right to liberty and to compensation for arbitrary arrest and detention;

       (ii) in failing to dispense justice by prosecuting those culprits who beat him up in May 1998 and carried out the arson attack on his house, the Gambia is violating Mr. Juwara's right to freedom from torture and right to security;

       (iii) in failing to conduct the proceedings in the Brikama Mosque case without undue delay and in continuing, without justifiable legal reasons, appeal proceedings against Mr. Juwara alone, the Gambia is violating his right to equal treatment before the law and to fair trial, in particular the right to be tried without undue delay;

  4. Calls on the authorities of the Gambia to comply fully with their obligations under national and international law and ensure respect for the human rights of all citizens, including members of the opposition; calls in particular once again on Parliament to avail itself of its constitutional prerogatives as legislator and overseer of the executive branch to prevent human rights abuses in the future and thus assume to the full its role as a guardian of human rights;

  5. Requests the Secretary General to bring this resolution to the attention of the competent authorities, the sources and relevant international organizations;

  6. Decides to close this case.

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