NHRC Urges Government to Address Public Concerns on Environmental Pollution, Degradation


By Ndey Sowe

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has recommended for the Government of The Gambia to urgently address public concerns on issues relating to environmental pollution or degradation.

The Commission further recommended for government to recognise the right to a satisfactory environment under the Constitution, as well as adopt measures to prevent pollution and ecological degradation and put in place effective mechanisms for the rehabilitation of sites that have been mined and also the government should develop a National Action Plan for the implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Businesses and Human Rights.

The Commission made these recommendations in its Annual Report of 2021, State of Human Rights which Foroyaa is still serialising for the readership.

According to NHRC, The Gambia is a party to international and regional conventions towards advancing the right to a healthy environment. As a party to the ICESCR, the Gambia is obliged to take all steps to improve all aspects of the environment and industrial hygiene. It is also obliged, as a party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, to specifically provide for the right to a general satisfactory environment favourable to development.

The Commission further pointed out that the Constitution does not specifically recognise the right to a satisfactory environment.

However, there exists a National Environment and Management Act 1994 regarding the Control and Management of the Environment. The Act, in addition to establishing the National Environment Agency responsible for the management of the environment, also confers a duty on persons to maintain a decent environment.

However, the NHRC indicated that, the conflict Development Analysis 2019 has revealed that land and environmental issues are on the rise and create community tensions threatening social cohesion and act as key drivers of instability. Concerns include land ownership, reduction in agricultural land due to climate effects commercial development, land and water pollution from fishmeal companies.