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Comment by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on the situation in The Gambia

GENEVA (17 April 2016) – “The death in State custody of an opposition leader, Solo Sandeng, is deeply disturbing and I urge the authorities in The Gambia to ensure that it is immediately subjected to an independent and thorough investigation, and that the perpetrators are brought to justice. There are also reports that two other members of the opposition died in State custody on Thursday after they were arrested during a protest rally in Banjul. Some others who were detained the same day are reportedly suffering from serious injuries. I remind the authorities of their obligation to ensure that these individuals receive prompt medical attention, and that all the people of The Gambia are free from torture and ill treatment.

The death of Mr Sandeng has brought into stark focus the worrying pre-electoral environment in The Gambia, with reports of forceful suppression of peaceful demonstrations and the arrest and ill treatment of numerous protestors and members of the opposition. Respect for the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression are particularly indispensible in a pre-electoral context, and the Gambian authorities have a duty to ensure that the conduct of security forces during protests is strictly in line with international human rights standards.* Any allegation of the use of excessive force must be independently investigated.”

* including the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/LawEnforcementOfficials.aspx and http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/UseOfForceAndFirearms.aspx

ENDS

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