By Assan Bah
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has engaged National Assembly Members (NAMs) in a two-day capacity-building workshop on the country’s human rights obligations. The workshop, which was held in a local hotel in Kololi on the 15 and 16 of September, brought together commissioners, members of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Human Rights and Constitutional Matters, and members of the Select Committee on Gender, Children and Social Welfare as well as members of the United Nations (UN).
This capacity-building workshop is part of the commission’s mandate to promote and protect human rights in the Gambia, with the main objective being the promotion of a broader understanding of NAMs on human rights instruments, both domestic and international, as protectors of human rights.
Representing the commission’s chairperson, Mr. NjunduDrammeh, a Commissioner with the NHRC, said the workshop is important as the commission reports to the National Assembly as an oversight institution of the commission.
“We have also established a great relationship with Members of the National Assembly’s standing committee on human rights and constitutional matters and we are thankful to them for their role as promoters and protectors of human rights, and as the mouthpiece of the people,” he said.
The commissioner called on members to ensure that they legislate laws that will protect both the lives and properties of the people.
“You should ensure that there is an enabling legislation in place and ensure that people who cannot speak for themselves are protected,” he said. As this year marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he said “human rights are the universal aspirations of all people because it provides them justice, human dignity and integrity, and protects them against oppression and suppression through the participation of everybody”.
Drammeh expressed gratitude to members of the National Assembly and the United Nations (UN) for their continuous support of the commission.
Representing the UN Coordinator, Dr Desta Tiruneh, the WHO Country Representative and UN Resident Coordinator said the workshop is important because it comes at a moment when the Gambia is undergoing a transitional justice process, adding that it will ensure that NAMs have a better understanding of their roles on human rights matters.
“This is a reminder of your duty as lawmakers in ensuring that all Gambians realise and enjoy the tenets of freedom, justice and peace as indicated in the UDHR and other international, regional and national human rights instruments that the Gambia is a party to,” he added.
The WHO official commended NHRC’s commitment towards its mandate and government for its commitment to the promotion of human rights, assuring the UN’s continuous support to the NHRC and government during the transitional justice process.
Delivering his remarks, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Hon. Seedy S.K. Njie said capacity-building is essential in providing them with more understanding of their oversight functions, and in familiarizing themselves with the functions of the commission.
According to him, “it is gratifying to note that the mandate of the commission since inception is commendable, considering its efforts in boosting human rights standards in the country through the formulation of guidelines, policies and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)”.
Participants were taken through the concepts, norms and standards of human rights; domestic human rights framework; UN human rights mechanisms; regional human rights instruments and mechanisms; the Women’s Act, 2010 and 2015; the Children’s Act, 2005 and 2016; Persons with Disabilities Act 2021; and the role of the National Assembly in the promotion and protection of human rights.
The commission also gave a report on the status of the implementation of the White Paper on the TRRC Report.
The NHRC was established by an Act of the National Assembly in December 2017, with a broad mandate to promote and protect human rights in the Gambia.