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Banjul, 28 February 2024: IHRDA, 27 February 2024, filed case against The Gambia before the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (the ECOWAS Court) on behalf of a man who was shot by members of Gambia Police Force (GPF) during a student protest in April 2000.

The suit states that in April 2000, several students in The Gambia took to the streets protesting the rape of a female student as well as the torture of another by the Gambia Fire and Ambulance Service officers. They were accompanied by the then Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of The Gambia Armed Forces. On their way, they encountered a roadblock at the office buildings of the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) of the GPF. They approached the PIU officers believing they would be allowed to proceed, as they were accompanied by the CDS. PIU officers opened fire on protesters, resulting in the death of fourteen (14) persons and severe injuries to others. The Plaintiff in this suit was shot in the back, leaving him paralyzed. The matter was heard by the Gambian Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission, and he was given financial compensation in the sum of Nineteen Thousand Dalasis (GMD 19, 000), which he rejected, as it was negligible, compared to the cost of the treatment he needs.

The suit alleges that, due to the lack of effective investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators, Gambia has violated the victim’s right to remedy and access to justice, and has failed in its obligation to protect him from torture, as well as guaranteeing his right to security of the person. These are rights and obligations enshrined in several treaties to which The Gambia is party, notably the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and other forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment.

“School children who took to the streets were simply exercising their right to freedom of expression, hoping this would bring positive change. We believe the police could have used other lawful means to control the protest…Through this suit, we hope that justice will be rendered, and the Plaintiff adequately compensated”, IHRDA Executive Director, Emilia Siwingwa, stated.

The Plaintiff requests the ECOWAS Court to declare The Gambia responsible for the alleged human rights violations; to order The Gambia to conduct an effective investigation, prosecute perpetrators, pay the victim monetary compensation for damages suffered and provide him medical and psychosocial support.