Tag Archives: Gambia

Gambia’s genocide case against Myanmar calls Canada, Netherlands’ attention.

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The two nations will pay special attention to prosecuting gender-based violence against Rohingya, including rape.


Canada and the Netherlands will formally join The Gambia’s legal bid to hold Myanmar accountable over allegations of genocide against its mostly-Muslim Rohingya minority in a move described by observers as historic.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and his Dutch counterpart Stef Blok said the two nations were intervening in the case before the International Court of Justice in order “to prevent the crime of genocide and hold those responsible to account”.

Calling the lawsuit “of concern to all of humanity,” Champagne and Blok said Canada and the Netherlands would “assist with the complex legal issues that are expected to arise and will pay special attention to crimes related to sexual and gender-based violence, including rape”.

More than 730,000 Rohingya fled their homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August 2017, crossing the border into neighbouring Bangladesh where they now live in crowded refugee camps after the military launched a brutal crackdown in the western state.

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Myanmar says the military action was a response to attacks by Rohingya armed groups in Rakhine. United Nations investigators concluded that the campaign had been executed with “genocidal intent”.

More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after a brutal military crackdown in 2017 [File: Mohammad Ponir Hossain/ Reuters]

Champagne and Blok said in filing the case at the UN court, The Gambia “took a laudable step towards ending impunity for those committing atrocities in Myanmar”.

‘Historic’
The New York-based Global Center for Justice welcomed the move by Canada and the Netherlands, calling it “nothing short of historic”.

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Akila Radhakrishnan, the group’s president, said: “Just as important as their intention to intervene is their promise to focus on gendered crimes of genocide like sexual and gender-based violence, which was central to the atrocities against the Rohingya.”

She added: “Too often, gendered experiences do not translate to justice and accountability efforts and leave the primary targets of those crimes – women and girls – behind. This is an important step forward to address that gap and Canada and the Netherlands should be applauded for this move.”

Rohingya groups also welcomed the move, and urged others to follow their lead.

“Slowly, but surely, the net is closing in on Myanmar’s leaders – they will not get away with this genocide,” Tun Khin, president of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK said in a statement, describing Canada and the Netherlands as being on the right side of history.

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“It is imperative that other states, including the United Kingdom, now stand on the right of justice for the Rohingya and other ethnic and religious minorities in Myanmar,” the statement added. “Justice is a core demand of all Rohingya people and particularly important for those inside the camps of Cox’s Bazar who have been forced to flee their homeland and live as refugees in a foreign state.”

Canada and the Netherlands also urged other states to support The Gambia’s legal fight, which was launched in November last year on behalf of the 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

In the lawsuit, the small West African country said that as a signatory to the 1948 Genocide Convention it had the obligation to prevent and punish genocide, no matter where it took place.

Relying heavily on UN reports documenting killings, mass rapes and widespread arson in Rohingya villages, The Gambia alleged Myanmar was committing “an ongoing genocide” against its Rohingya minority and called for emergency measures as a preliminary step to protect the long-persecuted minority.

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Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi attended the initial hearings at The Hague in December last year, calling on the 17-judge panel to dismiss the case. Rejecting the genocide claims, she warned the UN judges that allowing The Gambia’s case to go ahead risked reigniting the crisis and could “undermine reconciliation”.

The panel in January ordered Myanmar to take emergency measures to protect its Rohingya population, pending the fuller case.

Myanmar will now have to regularly report on its efforts to protect Rohingya from acts of genocide every six months until a final ruling is made, a process that could take years.

Although ICJ rulings are final and binding, countries have occasionally flouted them, and the court has no formal mechanism to enforce its decisions.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Three ministers in Gambia test positive

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Three ministers in Gambia’s government have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said, days after the West African nation’s president went into self-isolation.

President Adama Barrow said last week he would self-isolate for two weeks after Vice President Isatou Touray tested positive.

Finance Minister Mambureh Njie, Petroleum and Energy Minister Fafa Sanyang and Agriculture Minister Amie Fabureh “have tested positive” for the virus, the presidency said in a tweet on Sunday.

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Health authorities in the former British colony of some two million people have recorded 498 coronavirus cases to date, with nine fatalities since its first case was reported in March.

The Gambia is a small West African country, bounded by Senegal, with a narrow Atlantic coastline.

The Gambia closed air and land borders in March. It has also restricted public transport, shut schools and markets, and made face masks compulsory.

But as with other poor countries in the region, there are fears that the tiny nation is ill-equipped for a large outbreak.


#Newsworthy…

Gambia crisis: ECOWAS mediates ..


The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament has joined in the efforts at resolving the political crisis in the Gambia, it was learnt.

ECOWAS Speaker Mustapha Cisse Lo on Wednesday led a 12- member delegation to the Gambian President, Adama Barrow.

Cisse Lo had previousely met with leaders of the opposition.


There is a disagreement in the coalition that brought in the President, which led to political infighting.

The President, it was learnt, had promised to stay for three years, a promise he was accused of not willing to keep.


The visit was, ECOWAS Speaker said, was primarily to thank him for hosting the last extraordinary meeting of the Community Parliament and also an opportunity to discuss the political crisis.

Briefing journalists after more than an hour meeting at the Presidency, the Speaker Cisse Lo noted that they reported to the President on issues pertaining in the Parliament.


According to the Speaker, he briefed the President on his meeting with the opposition leader as there is emerging political tension in the country but pointed out that there is the need for Gambia to have stability.

“President Adama Barrow gave us listening ear and took good note of the issues we brought to his attention; and it is my view that we undertake such visits and discuss with all parties, a country cannot develop without stability,” the Speaker stressed.

Over the weekend there was demonstration by the opposition to call on President Barrow to step down based on the three- year agreement despite the constitution giving him a five- year mandate.

Others also demonstrated calling for the return of Yahya Jammeh.


#Newsworthy…