Banjul, 14 December 2021: IHRDA is organising a 2-day sensitization workshop, 14-15 December 2021, with key Gambia actors and stakeholders on the decriminalization and improved policing of petty offences in The Gambia.

Participants include representatives of the National Assembly, the judiciary, the Ministry of Justice, national security institutions, the National Human Rights Commission, the Faculty of Law, the Gambia Bar Association, and other relevant civil society organisations.

The workshop seeks to equip participants with adequate information about the situation of petty offences in The Gambia and opportunities for taking action toward decriminalization and better policing of petty offences, using regional human rights standards and best practices.

Topics covered include petty offences in the Gambian context – situation, opportunities and challenges; the human rights perspective on the criminalisation of poverty; principles on the decriminalisation of petty offences in Africa; the African Union Model Law on Policing and its role in improving policing of petty offences; an overview of the Advisory Opinion on the compatibility of Vagrancy Laws with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other human rights instruments applicable in Africa; the negative impact of petty offences on the poor and marginalized; and State Accountability in the African Human Rights System. The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative in Ghana is also sharing experience in advocacy for declassification of petty offences in other parts of Africa.

The workshop comes at a time when the Gambia National Assembly is currently reviewing the Criminal Code. This activity falls within the framework of the campaign to decriminalise and enhance policing of petty offences in West Africa, funded by Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).