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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. Omar Jallow 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),

Taking account of a communication from the source dated 4 September 2003,

Recalling that Mr. Omar Jallow was arbitrarily detained from October 1995 to 4 November 1996, reportedly for planning a peaceful demonstration, without any charges ever having been brought against him; he abandoned his claim for compensation on account of Section 13 of Schedule 2 to the 1997 Constitution, which grants immunity from prosecution for all office-holders of the former Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC); considering that, on 16 September 2002, Mr. Jallow was reportedly again arrested and interrogated for about four hours, before being released, by officers of the National Intelligence Agency on account of statements he had made to private newspapers,

Recalling that Decree 89 of 14 August 1996 (Political Activities Resumption Decree) prohibited certain political parties and all persons who held the offices of President, Vice-President and Ministers in the Gambia during the thirty (30) years preceding 22 July 1994 from joining any political party, addressing any political gathering or expressing publicly any political opinion; the Decree concerned Mr. Jallow, who was a Minister during the period in question, and prevented him from participating in politics; recalling furthermore that on 31 August 2001, the Speaker reported that the Government had repealed Decree 89,

Recalling further that on 22 March 2002 Mr. Jallow's passport was confiscated without any motives being given; the authorities ignored an order issued by the High Court on 8 July 2002 to return the passport to him immediately; considering that only on 26 September 2002 did the authorities obey the Court order when they returned the passport to him,

Bearing in mind 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, Article 9, paragraphs 1 and 5, of which enshrines the right to liberty and the right to compensation for anyone who has been the victim of unlawful arrest or detention, and Articles 12, 19 and 21 of which set out the right to freedom of movement, of expression and of assembly,

Recalling that, according to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action which the international community adopted at the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993, "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 that impunity itself constitutes a violation of international law,

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

  2. Notes that while the August 2001 abrogation of Decree 89, which had deprived Mr. Jallow of his political rights for five years, enabled him to resume his political activities, Section 13 of Schedule 2 to the 1997 Constitution, which prevents him from obtaining redress for his arbitrary detention, remains in force;

  3. Stresses that it falls to Parliament 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 therewith, in addition to honouring its international obligations in this field;

  4. 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;

  5. Is compelled to conclude that, 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. Jallow's right to liberty and to compensation for arbitrary arrest and detention; in addition, by depriving Mr. Jallow of his passport without any legal basis, it has violated his right to freedom of movement;

  6. 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 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;

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

  8. Decides to close this case.

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