A delegation of the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights met with two Gambia Government Ministers in a hastily arranged meeting on Friday 23 September, 2016.
In a press statement issued on 22 September the delegation had expressed regret in not being able to meet representatives of the Government. In its latest statement to the media the EU Delegation office noted that “after the release of this press statement the EP delegation was in the end able to have a meeting with the Gambian Minister of Presidential Affairs and the Gambian Minister of Justice at short notice. During this meeting the EP delegation raised many of the points mentioned in the press statement of 22 September.”
The delegation comprising four members of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI), David Martin (S&D, UK – chair of the delegation), Richard Howitt (S&D, UK), Judith Sargentini (Greens/EFA, NL) and Karol Karski (ECR, PL), paid an official visit to The Gambia from 19 to 23 September 2016.
In the press statement of 22 September the EP delegation to The Gambia called on the government to release all protestors arrested in connection with the April protests protests including the UDP leader Ousainou Darboe, to grant access to state media to opposition parties, to allow the United Nations Special Elections Team access to the country and to conduct an independent investigation into Solo Sandeng’s death. The statement also expressed serious concern about the likelihood of free and fair presidential elections in December 2016.
According to the statement, the purpose of the visit was to gather information, to influence the government to improve its human rights record and to support human rights campaigners in the face of The Gambia facing a presidential election in December 2016.
The delegation had meetings with representatives of the National Assembly including the minority leader, with the Independent Electoral Commission, the Ombudsman, with women’s associations and with opposition parties, before a debriefing of the media.