EU Cancelled planned Budget Support to The Gambia government due to poor governance
As commission closely follows the situation in the country
European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton have assured Campaign for Human Rights in The Gambia UK that her orgnisation along with other EU Member States is seriously addressing human rights,rule of law and democracy in The Gambia.
"The EU closely follows the situation in The Gambia regarding human rights,rule of law,democracy and governance in general.Despite The Gambias progresses in economic terms and in reaching the Millenium Development Goals,there are definately concerns in this respect and the EU along with Member States,is addressing this issue seriously"She said.
Responding to a written question from Jean Lambert Green Party Member of European Parliament(MEP) for London who asked the Commission given the wide range of human rights abuses taking place in The Gambia,including arbitrary arrests,enforced disapperances,torture,unfair trials and extrajudicial excutions what measures are currently being taken by EU to encourage the Gambian Government to reaffirm its commitment to Article 9 of the Contonou Agreement which calls,inter alia,for respect for all human rights and fundamental freedom.Does the EU have information on steps taken by The Gambian government to establish a national human rights commission and an anti-corruption agency and does the EU consider such measures sufficient to address the wide range of human rights violations in The Gambia.
She said the latest political cosultation between EU and The Gambia government took place in Banjul 0n April 2011 with level of paticipation from both the EU and Gambia side and the discussions mainly focused on human rights,democracy and governance specially in relation to the upcoming presidential elections,drugs regional stability and economic development.
"The Gambian side made a certain number of timid openings namely regarding freedom for political parties to hold public rallies and about independent investigation into two murder and disappearnce cases.This now needs to be monitored." she said in the rely to MEP Lambert
The EU Vice President added "Regarding development cooperation,a planned budget support intervention was cancelled mainly on the grounds of ill-governance.In addition,the 10th European Development Fund Mid-Term review concluded to a 20%-reduction of Gambias allocation,among others on the basis of criteria related to governance.The Commission is now re-programming its aid,including a governance project,which will address access to justice,media and public finance management.A second tranche of this project in 2012 may encompass criminal justice(drugs and traffic in human beings),and a specific support of United Nations High Commissioner for Huamn Rights programme in The Gambia including for reinforcing of The Gambia Natioal Human Rights Commission.
Baroness Ashton revealed that a political dialogue meeting held in June 2010 allowed for a open and frank exchanges on the themes of press freedom,freedom for opposition parties to hold public rallies,independence of the justice and the need for investigation into unexplained disappearnces cases."At the end of 2010 the Africa Council Working Group requested to intensify such political dialogue,as provided by annex VII of the contonou agreement and asses the situation at the end of 2011"
The European Union avails of two sets of instruments: political dialogue under Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement that provides for a regular assessment of the developments concerning the respect for human rights,democratic principles,the rule of law and good governance as well as development cooperation instruments.
Responding to the development Alieu Badara Ceesay Campaign Officer Campaign for Human Rights in The Gambia(CHRG- UK) said"This is a very important development that EU is addressing these issues in The Gambia while the Gambian authorities have shy away from given the true picture of the situation in the country Gambia Campaign will continue to engage the EU about the situation with facts".
He called on the EU not to buy all the stories that Gambia governemnt will put before them Gambia is a place where dissent has been put down,with varying degrees of brutality since 1994,torture is rift and dissidents are intimidated,kidnapped and killed.Hundred of political prisoners women and men are languishing in jail following hasty trials held in utter disregard for the most elementary rules of fairness and justice,cruelty is dispensed regularly for the sole purpose of instilling fear in the population.
"EU should give aid to poor countries but should attach string to aid for governemnts who do not recognise human rights and civil liberty".
Ceesay thanked EU and MEP Jean Lambert for their support in defence of fundamental human rights in The Gambia.