By Omar Bah
Daniel Emmanuel Joof, the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission, has said for the Gambia to achieve its #NeverAgain slogan, the current government must not do anything similar to the way of the past regime.
The Human rights lawyer said: “If the Gambia is to have any chance of moving forward and avoid what happened under Yahya ,the government must among other things make sure they don’t attempt to interfere with things like the Judiciary and the human rights commission.”
He said another way to break with the past is for government to institute an anti-corruption commission and empower the media. “We also need a thorough security sector reform. We have lot of work to do as Gambians,” he said in a Standard exclusive Monday.
He added: “I think the government should also be very serious about the youths because if you have a youthful population of 65% you should create the conducive environment for them. Just removing Jammeh is not enough. We must do more to rebuild our country.”
Commenting further, Joof who also chaired the Faraba Banta Commission said inasmuch as Gambians would want to hold the authorities accountable, we should also individually hold ourselves accountable.
“We must also understand our duties and responsibilities. We are very good at making complaints but let us try and do things honestly and transparently in our own ways before holding our government to account,” he noted.
Human rights commission
Joof said the Human Rights Commission is independent and permanent, disclosing further that the Commission has already started work on a very broad mandate to promote and protect human rights, investigate and even advise the government on human rights issues.
“We receive complaints and seek remedial reliefs for human rights violations. Recently we have been in all the regions in the Gambia raising awareness on our mandate and in the long run we are even going to have offices in all these regions. The overall aim is for the Commission to install a culture of rule of law, justice and peace in this country,” he said
He revealed that the commission has the powers to investigate and visit detention centers to see whether people are detained according to law or whether their conditions are humane without taking permission. “And this involves police cells and we even have powers to protect whistle blowers”.
The Commission, he added, has already recruited legal officers and investigators.
Joof further disclosed that the Commission is continuing its investigation into the death of Ousman Darboe, the Sierra Leonean who was allegedly tortured by the anti-crime unit.
On Haruna Jatta’s case, Joof said the Commission is trying to settle down and that all those cases will be looked into.
“The Haruna Jatta incident happened before we came. It is a process and there is lot of work we are going to do. The expectation is high but we cannot just do everything right now,” he added.