The Point (Banjul)

11 January 2013

Gambia Govt. Statement On EU Article 8 Political Dialogue

document

The government of The Gambia wishes to bring to the attention of Gambians in particular and the international community including the EU in general that The Gambia attained Independence on the 18 February 1965 thereby bidding ADIEU to colonialism, subjugation and humiliation that spanned 400 years.

During the 400 years of colonial occupation and misrule, the Gambia lost everything that was necessary for her development ranging from flora and fauna to youths i.e. energetic young men and women who were captured and forced into slavery.All this looting of animals, precious plant species, energetic men and women in their prime, mineral and agricultural resources, water resources and sale of our land were part of a calculated European Agenda to impoverish the African continent and turn dignified and wealthy Mother Africa into a continent of the wretched.

The Gambia was a very large and wealthy kingdom where elephants roamed in their thousands since creation or for millions of years in addition to other exotic wild life species like giraffes, lions, cheetahs different types of dear and antelopes zebras, ostrich, hippos, lions, rhinos just to name a few. The Gambia and the River Gambia was the centre of trade in ivory between Africans themselves and between Gambians and the first European explorers mainly from Portugal etc.

It was this lucrative trade in Ivory that attracted the English or colonial Britain to the Gambia with catastrophic consequences. Colonialism which lasted for a little more than 400 years ended in 1965, with loss of all the hundreds of thousands of the elephants that existed for millions of years before the coming of the Europeans in general and the British in particular, loss of thousands of young men and women into slavery and hundreds of Gambians that were conscripted to fight in the two world wars, on the side of Great Britain and her allies, and the loss of a greater part of our land territory. The land size of the Gambia, changed from an elephant sized Giant country into a lizard sized country within four hundred years of British occupation. Our marine and mineral resources that we lost during this period cannot also be quantified.

At independence in 1965, strangely enough those Gambian leaders accepted being given a lizard of a country as an independent unviable state instead of the elephant Giant of a country that they came to occupy 400 years before. Gambians preferring independence to bondage, accepted the loss of their land and settled for what was left of the homeland as the Republic of the Gambia at a huge loss.

If the Independence of little Gambia as a sovereign state on the 18th of February 1965 was in doubt, the advent of the July 22nd 1994 Revolution buttressed and exemplified Gambia's total independence as a sovereign dignified albeit small state that will never be colonized again.

Unfortunately for some outside powers, especially the EU, they don't seem to see that little poor Gambia will never be anybody's colony in whatever form and certainly not after 18 years of revolutionary reconstruction and unprecedented development. Our 18 years development cannot be matched to any development of any kind during the 400 years of British and European occupation and misrule of The Gambia.

These facts being the case, GOTG considers it as an insult to our sovereignty, dignity, culture and our religion the agenda being imposed by the EU with time lines for implementation by this administration under the pretext of Article 8.

This sinister agenda is intended to cause the following effects:

1. Make criminals lords over all the law abiding citizens as they will be rewarded for their criminal activities whilst law abiding Gambians are punished by being at the mercy of criminals;

2. Turn the Gambia; a Muslim country, into a sinful, abominable and Allah disobeying country by allowing the children of Satan, the biggest threat to human existence, otherwise called homosexuals walk the streets of the Gambia freely.Homo-sexuality is not only satanic, but a serious danger to human existence as they disobey Allah's orders to Adam and Awa to procreate and inhabit the Earth.

The future of this country or any other country of human being created by Allah, would be seriously jeopardized and threatened if babies fail to be produced. The Human race would be extinct if we stop procreation by allowing these satanic children (Homo-sexuals) any little space in our pure and dignified Muslim country.

3. Destabilize the country and destroy our livelihoods and all the achievements we made painstakingly over the last 18 years.

4.Loose our dignity and self esteem as an Independence and dignified African country by having our laws that reflect the wishes and aspirations of this Muslim nation based on our culture but more importantly our religion, to be replaced by laws imposed by an alien culture that do not believe in our religion, culture and more importantly Allah's existence.

All these insults and arrogance just for the sake of chicken change called AID or Development Assistance.As a Muslim country, we believe and put our destiny in Allah the Almighty, the one and only supreme Authority for Mankind, Lord of the worlds and Only HE is worthy of being worshipped and obeyed; not to the European Union or any western or Eastern power that exists or will exist on this Earth.

Dangling Aid over our heads as enticement for us to be lured into losing our dignity, offend Allah and be re-colonised is both immoral and insulting not only to Gambians in particular but Africans in general, taking into account the fact that the wealth of Europe today was due to the merciless looting and pillaging of Africa and her resources for more than four centuries.

The Gambia, as small as we are reduced to today thanks to European Colonialism, will neither be dictated to, nor be re-colonised in whatever form because of Aid etc. Therefore the Agenda put forward by the EU with time imposed deadlines are unacceptable and a non-starter.Our laws concerning any activity and meant to ensure law and order in the country (as this is a country of human beings) would not be weakened if not strengthened and enforced to the letter.

The EU should rather explain to the Gambia, why blacks are being killed in EU member countries cockroaches and their killers never brought to justice; why Africans (black) have to go through hell seven times before they are issued visas to enter EU member states.

If the EU believes in what they are proposing to the Gambia why are Africans being not only Arbitrarily deported for no reasons other than being blacks on a daily basis and end up not only being destitute but become insane as a consequence. Are Blacks not human beings that should have the right to go to Europe for a better life after the European have looted and sucked the African continent dry for more than 4 centuries?.

We Africans would not come to your continent today and bother you, if you Europeans stayed in your continent yesterday. The government of The Gambia is making it abundantly clear that Homosexual will not be entertained on Gambian soil for whatever reasons as our culture and our religion forbid such decadent and abominable behaviours detrimental to human existence.

However, the EU is welcome to give all Homosexuals, visa free entry to EU member-states and as well as permanent residency therein. This will allow the EU to give them better protection and freedom they yearn for since they speak the same language and share the same belief.

For the information of the Gambian populace the following are the items propose to be imposed for implementation by the Gambia government with their time lines.

Concrete benchmarks and timelines - reinforced Article 8 dialogue

"The EU has express its concern over what it views as a significant deterioration in the human rights situation in The Gambia in recent months, notably the execution of nine death row inmates, the closure of media organizations, and the arbitrary arrest and detention of journalists and human rights defenders.

In view of these events, and in addition to a persistent lack of progress made on the commitments undertaken by The Gambia at successive Article 8 meetings, the EU considers that a phase of Intensified Political dialogue with the Government must be launched. This process, foreseen in Article 8 (8) and Annex VII of the Cotonou Agreement, precedes consultations under Article 96 of the Agreement.

Under Intensified Political dialogue, specific benchmarks serve as mechanisms for reaching targets with regards to human rights, democratic principles and rule of law, through the setting of intermediate objectives and time frames for compliance. The draft list of possible benchmarks and timelines below are the EU's proposals for discussion during the next Article 8 meeting:

Freedom of Expression/Media

The EU asks that the Government confirms its commitment to allow the free operation of independent media in The Gambia. This should reassure media stakeholders that as long as the media adheres to the laws of The Gambia, the Government guarantees that they will not be arbitrarily closed and that any closure will be notified by court order as required by law.--1 month

The EU asks that restrictive barriers (monetary/regulatory) to registration and licensing of the media should be removed. In particular:

• Provision in the Newspaper Act 1994 (amended) should be revised to allow:

Free of charge registration of print and broadcast media

Automatic registration of any print and broadcast media as long as prerequisite information is provided.

• The provision in the Information and Communication Act 2009 should be revised to ensure that the power to suspend, revoke or amend the terms and conditions of a license lie with an independent authority.-6 months

Freedom of Expression/Media

In line with The Gambia's obligations under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, whereby State Parties are obliged to respect individuals' rights to freedom of opinion and expression, the EU asks the following:

(i) A removal of restrictions on accessing and sharing information electronically which should translate in the unblocking of online media. -1 Month

(ii) A revision of the provisions in the Criminal Code that allow for prosecution on the charges of "sedition, libel, false publication or false information to a public servant", and which impose prison terms and/or fines. -6 months

(iii) Revision of laws on freedom of expression and media regulation, such as those laid down in "Article 19" report "the Gambia: analysis of selected laws on media-overview" (April 2012 prepared in the framework of the EU/The Gambia NSA program and provided to Government during last Art. 8 meeting June 2012). -within 24 months

Death Penalty

The European Union recalls the commitments made by the Gambian authorities to the international community, including to the EU in the framework of the Cotonou Agreement Art. 8 political dialogue, to consider transforming a then de facto moratorium on the death penalty into a de jure one, most recently in June 2012.Successive UNGA resolutions on the death penalty have called on all countries to progressively restrict its use and to reduce the increasing number of offenses for which it may be imposed. UN standards are accepted by an ever increasing number of countries, including in West Africa.

The Human Rights Committee also stated in its General Comment No. 6 that even though "states parties are not obliged to abolish the death penalty totally they are obliged to limit its use and, in particular, to abolish it for other than the "most serious crimes". The committee noted further in the same general comment that "the expression "most serious crimes" must be read restrictively to mean that the death penalty should be a quite exceptional measure". All general comment adopted by the Human Rights Committee are binding on The Gambia. The EU therefore proposes the following actions to be undertaken:

That the Government maintains the reinstated de facto moratorium on the use of the death penalty. -Immediate

That the Government provides information regarding the recent executions, including the location of the place of burial to the families of the victims, in line with Article 7 of the ICCPR2. -1 month

Freedom of Expression/Media

That a full and transparent review of the death penalty by the National Assembly, including clarity on the method of execution takes place as required by the Gambian Constitution (Section 18 (3). -12 months

Depending on the review by the National Assembly, propose to introduce a de jure moratorium on the use of the death penalty. -24 months

The provisions for the death penalty in the elements of the criminal code and other laws should be reviewed and eventually removed for those who do not correspond to Article 6 (2) of the ICCPR which provides that "death penalty sentences may be imposed only for the most serious crimes..." and in accordance to general Comment No. 6 the Human Rights Committee which states that "the expression" most serious crimes" must be read restrictively to mean that the death penalty should be a quite exceptional measure;

6 months

•Treason - Section 35 of the Criminal Code

•Murder - Section 188 of the Criminal Code

•Aiding the enemy - Section 36 of the Gambia Armed Forces Act

•Offences by person in command when in action - Section 37 of the Gambia Armed Forces Act

•Offences relating to security - Section 38 of the Gambia Armed Forces Act

•Offences relating to prisoner of war - Section 39 of the Gambia Armed Forces Act

•Acts of terrorism - Section 3 (1) of the Anti-Terrorism Act

That the Government sign and ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. -18 month

Access to Prisons

The EU asks that the government concludes a Memorandum of Understanding with the ICRC to allow for the ICRC access to prison facilities on a regular basis, and for these visits to take place according to ICRC standards. -3 months

The EU also asks that the government to provide regular and timely access for diplomatic corps, including private interviews and the right to conduct meetings in their native language. -1 month

The government, in partnership with the ICRC, should present coasted proposals to improve prison/detention facility conditions, to be brought further into line with international standards, and budget accordingly. -within 12 months

The Gambia ratified the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT) on June 6, 2006 but this is not indicated in any UN Website. The EU wished that the government provides information on this. And if it is because the instrument of ratification was never submitted after ratification, the EU asks that the Government complies with the necessary formalities. -3 months

The EU asks that the government to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the CAT. -6 months

Human Rights

It was agreed with the Commonwealth Secretariat to establish a Human Right Commission. The Commonwealth has started working with the GoTG on this. A meeting of all relevant stakeholders was held in Banjul earlier this year. The EU asks that Establish a Human Rights Commission, as agreed with the Commonwealth Secretariat. -18 months

Following the preparatory meeting of relevant sectors on Government of The Gambia/EU Article 8 political dialogue during which the EU presented conditionalities for The Gambia Government to meet within a certain time frame, the Office of the President wishes to make it clear that it does not accept such impositions as regard its domestic matters. The Gambia Government, therefore, condemns any attempt to interfere with the internal affairs of the country, especially those dealing with the implementation of the domestic laws which have been enacted and accepted by the Gambian people and passed by its legislature.

The government of The Gambia considers such impositions as an infringement on its rights as an independent and sovereign nation and as an equal member of the Human Race. The government categorically rejects this development and calls for an immediate cessation of attempts to meddle in the internal political affairs of the country. The Gambia government also wishes to inform the EU that it will not implement any of the 17 points highlighted on the basis of Article 8 Political Dialogue which undermines not only its integrity but peace and stability as an independent and sovereign state with its fundamental rights to operate within the parameters of duly constituted laws.

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