Friday, February 28, 2020

‘Civic Space Has Been Weakened And Is Shrinking’ Madi Jobarteh

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By Ndey Sowe

Madi Jobarteh, a human rights defender and country representative for West Minster Foundation for Democracy (WMD), said tactics are employed to discredit and weaken Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) because it is seen as a threat by governments in general.
Madi made these remarks, on Thursday December 12th 2019, during a workshop organized by the Africa Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS), in collaboration with Civil Society Organization Partnership for Development under theme: “Strengthen Civil Space in the Gambia”.

According to Mr Jobarteh “Government restricts funding for CSOs especially from outside and often deny them permits to protest or organize public gatherings.” He lamented that civic space has been shrinking for the past years due to repressive colonial laws; .

He intimated that civil society plays a pivotal role in strengthening the democratic space.
‘‘Civic space enables us to gather and assemble and to express our views so that we can hold Government to account,’’ he reiterated.

He argued that Government intimidates or harasses individual human right defenders, journalists and ordinary citizens by failing to undertake legal and institutional reforms to remove restrictions in expanding the civic space.

In her keynote address, Mrs Hannah Forster, Executive Director of , disclosed that the cardinal objective of the celebration is to revise strategies geared towards ending the scourges of human rights violations across the continent. She hailed the youth for their active participation in the fight to end the degrading human rights violations.

‘‘The youth have taken their rightful roles in ending human rights violations on the continent. A Few years ago, the AU dedicated the year to the youth by harnessing their power and by making sure that they contribute their quota to the development of their countries,’’ she remarked. She challenged the authorities in Government to revisit mitigation strategies with gross human rights violations and to foster cooperation with CSOs in the strife to attain equitable justice.

She continued: ‘‘Over 80 percent of the World lives in authoritarian societies. If people live or operate in closed societies where people are oppressed, it will be difficult for CSOs to do their work effectively’’.

Lala Touray, a human rights activist reminded the audience that the country had bad a history for the past 22years; that it is about time to start holding programs and not just stop at conference rooms but to talk to young people who matter the most in terms of their human rights.

The event took place in Kololi with the theme: “Campaign on Shrinking Civil Space and Promotion of Human Rights”.

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