Justice Minister Addresses West African Human Rights Meeting In Banjul
By Musa Saho
Honorable Dawda A. Jallow, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, on Wednesday, 7th June 2023 addressed the opening session of the Regional Consultation of the National Human Rights Institutions in West Africa, organized by the Network of National Human Rights Institutions for West Africa with support from Ecowas Commission, the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR), and United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWAS), held in the Gambia.
The annual event brought together participants from National Human Rights Institutions in West Africa, representatives of the Ecowas Commission, the UN Secretary-General, and Civil Society Organizations among others.
In his opening remarks, Minister Jallow said over the past six (6) years, the Gambia has been going through a transitional justice process, with a view of creating a historical record of the human rights violations that occurred during the 22 years of dictatorship, holding those who bear the greatest responsibility accountable, provide reparations for victims of human rights violations and making the necessary legal, policy and institutional reforms to enable the nation to transition to a stronger, more vibrant and stable democracy.
He stated that since the adoption of the principles relating to the status of National Human Rights Institutions (Paris Principles), which set out the minimum standards for the independence, mandate, funding, and functioning of human rights institutions, ensuring that they can effectively promote and protect human rights within their respective countries.
Honorable Jallow further reminded the gathering of the importance of the Paris Principles, saying it helps provide guidance to governments, civil society organizations, and international bodies on how NHRIs should operate in accordance with internationally recognized principles.
He also went further to say that the Paris Principles enable NHRIs to carry out their roles effectively and independently, such as monitoring human rights violations, providing advice and education, and engaging in advocacy and awareness creation.
“It is indeed remarkable and a significant achievement that ten (10), out of the 15 countries in West Africa that have established NHRIs are found to be in compliance with the Paris Principles, and have consequently been issued with “A” status accreditation. Gladly, the Gambia is among them despite the relatively young age of our NHRC. While it is very encouraging that over 60 percent of the NHRCs in the sub region have attained “A” status, it is important we strive for all NHRIs in the sub-region to meet this standard”, he said.
He concluded, by commending the Network of National Human Rights Institutions in West Africa for their dedication and commitment to promoting and protecting human rights in the region while reaffirming Gambia’s commitment to advancing human rights and dignity for all West Africans.