By Momodou Jarju
The Deputy Resident Representative of the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP), Nessie Golakai-Gould, has emphasized the need for the National Human Rights Commission to be independent and effective in its mandate.
Ms. Golakai made the remarks yesterday at a one-day stakeholder meeting the NHRC organized, bringing together parliamentarians, civil society organizations among others. The meeting was held at a local hotel in Kotu.
The UN Rep said an effective and independent human rights commission is not only important at the country but at the sub-national level as well.
“A key element of that protection system is the existence of an independent and effective national human rights institution such as the National Human Rights Commission to oversee the implementation of international, regional and national human rights norms. To do this effectively, the national human rights commission must be independent,” she said.
She said independent and effective national human rights institutions are well placed to address and prevent human rights violations which is relevant particularly in light to the past human rights violations and the transitional justice process that is already taking place in the country.
Speaking further Golakai said independent and effective national human rights institutions are key partners in the United Nation Human Rights mechanism to provide information, engage in an interactive dialogue, and support follow up actions and recommendations emanating from human rights treaty bodies.
She added that a great opportunity is being presented to The Gambia to maintain peace, security and social cohesion through the establishment of the NHRC.
“Especially with the current state of affairs where other important transitional justice mechanisms are ongoing, mainly the TRRC, the CRC, security sector reform, judicial and civil service reform and the redrafting of several pieces of the legislative instruments. The Government of The Gambia plays a critical role in ensuring that these efforts are at line to compliment and not to undermine each other as well as to consolidate o efforts made by each transitional justice institutions since the prosperity, peace and stability of the Gambia rest on no time planning for the rule of law sector to ensure that justice is transparent, fair, affordable and accessible,” she said.
In this regard, she went on, the UN stand prepared to support the Government of The Gambia in the development of a coordinated evidence base, sector wide rule of law and justice sector reform plan.
Golakai said the NHRC has an important and challenging task ahead as the independent and permanent body created by the National Assembly of the Gambia to promote and protect human rights in the Gambia.
“It is essential that the commission receive the full spectrum of support from the Government and civil society organizations in order to succeed in the fulfillment of it’s never again mandate,” she said.
Ms. Golakai commended the positive role played by the Government of The Gambia, the Gambian Assembly to shape and establish the NHRC in ensuring full compliance with the Paris Principle.