Gambia

From Children's Rights Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Alphabetical Country Selector

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Links to Country specific information:
International  Regional  National  Action  Organisations  Resources

Persistent violations
  • Female genital mutilation[1]
  • Early and forced marriage, and discrimination between boys and girls and boys in marriage laws[2]
  • Violence against children, particularly domestic violence[3]
  • Corporal punishment[4]
  • Low minimum age of criminal responsibility[5]
  • Inadequate and inappropriate juvenile justice system[6]
  • Inadequate health provision for children[7]
  • Inadequate reproductive health care and education[8]
  • Inadequate education provision and barriers to access to education for girls[9]
  • Discrimination against girls and children born out of wedlock[10]
  • Sexual abuse, exploitation and the trafficking of children[11]
  • Discrimination against, and inadequate services for, children with disabilities[12]
  • Inadequate response to poverty and low standard of living affecting children[13]

For more details, go here

Footnotes
  1. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  2. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  3. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child< UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  4. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  5. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  7. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Universal Periodic Review
  8. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  9. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women< Universal Periodic Review
  10. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  11. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  12. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  13. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review



Introduction

Surrounded on three sides by Senegal and following the course of the river of the same name into the Atlantic ocean, Gambia is the smallest country in Africa. Independent from the UK in 1965, a long period of one party dominated politics was brought to an end by a military coup in 1994, the leader of whom has since held the presidency through a series of sometimes controversial multi-party elections. Particular human rights issues in Gambia include the reintroduction of the death penalty, a harsh justice system, moves to shut down opposition and a free press and the early marriage amongst girls.


Geography

Located on the west coast of Africa on the Gambia river, Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa. With the exception of the Atlantic coast, the country is entirely surrounded by Senegal. The capital city is Banjul.

Population and language

Gambia is home to around 1.8 million people,[1] an ethnically varied population largely made up of Mandinka, Fula, Wolof, Jolof, and Serahuli peoples. Though ethnically diverse, the vast majority of the population are Muslim (90 per cent), though there is a sizeable Christian community and a range of indigenous beliefs are practised within the country.[2]

English is the official language, but Mandinka, Wolof, Fula and a range of other indigenous languages are also spoken.

History and Politics

In 1965, Gambia gained its independence form the British under the leadership of Dawda Jawara. From 1970, when the country formally became a republic, Jawara and his People's Progressive Party dominated national politics, though opposition parties were represented in small numbers within the parliament. Political tensions built throughout the 1980s and 1990s, particularly focusing on allegations of corruption levied against the government until, in 1994, tensions came to a head in a bloodless coup orchestrated by Yahya Jammeh.

In the aftermath of the coup, the Armed Forces Provisional Council governed for three years until a republic was re-established in 1997. Since the coup, Yahya Jammeh has completed three terms as head of state and government, and began a fourth term in 2011.[3] The African Union Observer Team that monitored the election considered that it was largely transparent and conducted peacefully, though it did note a heavy bias on the part of State TV and Radio towards the incumbent.[4]

In 2013, possibly pre-empting criticism of its reintroduction and recent application of the death penalty, Gambia unilaterally withdrew from the British Commonwealth.[5]


Economy

Gambia has experience significant economic growth in recent years, primarily in response to strong agricultural performance and a rise in market prices for groundnuts, one of the country's chief exports. Real gross GDP rose 5.6 per cent in 2010, a level of growth that the World Bank has projected will continue.[6] Despite this growth, Gambia remains among the world's poorest countries, the GNI per capita was as low as US440 in 2010, and was rated 168th in the world in terms of human development in 2011.[7] The economy is also largely undiversified. Agriculture accounts for a third of GDP and 70 per cent of employment, while tourism is the most significant foreign exchange earner. There is also a risk that as the region develops better infrastructure and harmonises trade policies, Gambia will suffer from the erosion of its position to benefit from transit trade.[8]

Media and Civil Society

Reporters Without Borders rated Gambia 141 out of 179 in its Press Freedom index of 2011/12, a ranking indicating serious problems facing media operating in the country. The Gambian Constitution contains express protections of freedom of the press, but in practice these protections have not been respected. The criminal law provides for serious penalties and harsh punishments for the publication of “false information”, including for the offences of sedition and libel. Freedom House has also reported that journalists are occasionally arrested for broadcasting “un-islamic material,[9] and in 2004, the country's most prominent journalist, Deyda Hydara, was murdered whilst under surveillance by the National Intelligence Agency.[10]

Legal restrictions also face political and civil society groups. In 2011, former Minister of Information and Communications, Dr Amadou Scattred Janneh, was arrested and charged with treason alongside three other men for their part in a campaign entitled “End Dictatorship Now”.[11]

Human Rights and Children's Rights

Beyond concerns over freedom of expression and media rights, Gambia has been widely criticised for its record on human rights. The harsh conditions in the justice system, including prison conditions that may amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, are a particular source of concern.[12] 2012 also saw the reintroduction of capital punishment in the country which had long been abolitionist in practice. The executions of nine people were carried out in a single night amid a Presidential promise to kill all those on death row by the end of the month, though the plans have since been put on hold.[13]

With regards to children's rights, international human rights mechanisms have raised a range of concerns, from the prevalence of female genital mutilation despite a legal prohibition, to forced and early marriage and violence against children.[14]

  1. UNDP, "Population statistics 2011"
  2. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, "Gambia Country Profile" 2 October 2012
  3. BBC, "Gambia's Yahya Jammeh wins fourth term" 25 November 2011
  4. African Union, "Preliminary statement of the African Union Observer Mission to the 24 November, 2011 presidential elections in the Republic of Gambia"
  5. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-24378132
  6. World Bank, "Gambia Country Overview" October 2012
  7. UNDP, "International Human Rights Development Indicators: Gambia"
  8. World Bank, "Gambia Country Overview" October 2012
  9. Freedom House, "Freedom of the Press 2011: Gambia"
  10. Reporters Without Borders, "Deyda Hydara: The murder of a journalists under surveillance" 16 May 2005
  11. Freedom House, "Freedom in the world 2012: Gambia"
  12. Amnesty International, "World Reports 2012: The state of the world's human rights"
  13. BBC, "Nine executed in Gambia, says Amnesty International" 24 August 2012
  14. See CRIN, [www.crin.org/resources/infoDetail.asp?ID=29831&flag=report "GAMBIA: Persistent violations of children's rights"] 15 November 2012

Sources:

Quick Facts

  • Population: 1,824,800 (UNDP, 2012)
  • Population under 18: 897,000 (UNICEF, 2011)
  • Number of internet users: 200,057 (10.9% of the population) (Internet World Stats, 2012)
  • Human Development Index ranking: 165 (UNDP, 2012)
  • Happy Planet ranking: N/A