Human Rights

The executive director of Beakanyang Kafo has called on countries around the world to work towards effective human rights protections

 

Beakanyang director calls on world to ensure effective human rights protections at New York summit

The executive director of Beakanyang Kafo has called on countries around the world to work towards effective human rights protections.

 

Nfamara Jawneh gave the call at the weekend during the 12th International Human Rights Summit at the UN headquarters in New York, United States.

The three-day event held from August 27 to 29, 2015, was graced by about six hundred participants from about 30 countries and was organised by Youth for Human Rights International, YHRI.

In his remarks, Jawneh who is also a seasoned journalist urged international human rights organisations like YHRI to work with his organisation in its quest to bring human rights education to the doorsteps of every Gambian.

He said: “It’s indeed a great pleasure for me to address such an important conference here at the United Nations. My organisation and I over the years have been working with communities across The Gambia to help in the realisation of their human rights through advocacy campaigns and in providing small community projects.” 

Jawneh said despite the best efforts of his organisation and other local rights-based organisations, human rights violations still exist in the country.

“Human rights is not only about absence of torture, right to freedom of speech, but it’s also about access to education, health and privacy,” he added.

According to him, human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that the world must work harder to end human rights violations. “I am determined more than ever before to be part of those courageous individuals working around the clock just to make human rights a reality for all especially in my country The Gambia,” he said.

 

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The rights advocate also stressed that governments all over the world should ensure that all their peoples enjoyed the fundamental human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration .

In her welcome address, Dr Mary Shuttleworth, the president of Youth for Human Rights International, said the purpose of the organisation was to teach youth about human rights, specifically the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and inspire them to become advocates for tolerance and peace. 

According to her, the mission of YHRI is educational and apolitical, focusing on teaching universal human rights as set out in the United Nations UDHR.

She further disclosed that since its inception 12 years ago, the International Summit inspires young people globally to take concrete actions to advance human rights in their communities.

Dr Shuttleworth applauded delegates of the 2015 summit for attending the summit despite all the challenges most of them faced before reaching New York.

Speaking earlier, Ireneo Omositson Namboka, UN Human Rights Education and Protection Adviser applauded YHRI for its active role in promoting the implementation of UNDR across the world.

He also hailed the UN chief Ban Ki Moon and staff for the support provided in hosting the summit.

The former Ugandan diplomat called for concerted efforts by all governments in the world and civil society organisations to ensure everyone enjoys his or her rights.

Beakanyang Director Denounces Child Marriage as the Organisation marks international Human Rights Day

rights violation.

According to Nfamara Jawneh, child marriage must be viewed within a context of force and coercion thus involving pressure and emotional blackmail and children that lack the choice and capacity to give full consent.

He made the remarks recently at a symposium held at Nyakoi Upper Basic and Senior Secondary Education in Wuli West, Upper River Region in commemoration of the international human rights day.

The local theme chosen by the organization this year was, “Early Marriage Deprived Girls the Right to Education: Let’s Stop It Now!”

Mr Jawneh further stressed that most child marriages are also force marriages hence even if a child appears to give his or her consent, anyone under age of 18 is not able to make a fully informed choice whether or not to marry.

Mr Jawneh also said that early marriage hold girls back and cut their education short as they are pulled out of school early.

According to him, child marriage deprive young girls in particular their rights to quality education and it’s usually associated with teenage pregnancy, social isolation and STIs.

The human rights activist and defender also noted that early marriage imposes an adult lifestyles unto young girls of which many of them are not prepared for both psychologically and physically.

 

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He cited number 2 of Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as saying that marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

He further say that the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women also prohibits child marriage.

“Typically parents, guardians or other prominent family members force young girls into a marriage where they have no say and have to succumb to the whims, wrong decisions and cruelty by those controlling their lives,” he lamented.

The result of such actions, he said, is that families will breakdown as very often the newlywed couples are unable to maintain a mutually supporting and loving relationship.

Jawneh also said that violence against women such as force marriage affect women around the world and it is deeply rooted in many societies, cultures and traditions of which Wuli is of no exception.

He called for an end to the practice which he said subjects girls to domestic violence, sexual abuse and social isolation.

When girls marry early, they lack education and could not secure meaningful work thus contributing to persistent poverty.

He reminded his audience that the day is being observed by the international community every year on 10 December to among others to bring to the attention of the peoples of the world the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and to highlights the efforts of UN and civil society organizations in improving human rights.

Speaking on the occasion, the chief of Wuli West Alhagie Kemo Jatta chief of Wuli West urged parents in the area to allow their children especially girls to complete their education rather than forcing them to marry early.

He applauded Beakanyang Kafo for its giant strides in educating local people their rights including right to education.

Principal of Nyakoi Upper Basic and Senior Secondary School hailed Beakanyang for chosen his school to host an important event like this.

He acknowledged that the issue of early marriage is a problem for the school and the region in general.

For his part, Mr Musa Mbogar Police Child Welfare Officer from Sare Ngai Police Post said, child marriage is very common in the area. He also called on girls to concentrate on their education and say no to early marriage.

Beakanyang President Mori Conteh, reaffirmed his organization’s commitment in ensuring access to quality education for all children in the country and ending child marriage in rural Gambia.

Ms Fatoumatta Bah, head girl of Nyakoi Upper Basic and Senior Secondary School in her vote of thanks applauded Beakanyang for enlighten them about their rights and importance of girls education.

Meanwhile, the event was attended by about 300 participants including students, teachers and parents.

Tumana Justice & Reconciliation Forum

As part of its continued efforts to promote truth seeking, justice and reconciliation through its Badingbung Initiatve, Beakanyang on 10th April 2021 held a daylong peace, justice and reconciliation Bantaba at Kundam Mafatty in Tumana District of Upper River Region.

 

Addressing the participants, Nfamara Jawneh, Executive Director of Beakanyang said the event was part of the activities of the ‘Badinbung’ (family dialogue) initiative which was geared towards fostering reconciliation and enhancing peace through the use of traditional methods to settle disputes at family level.

Irrespective of tribe, political differences and conflict among those invited, he said Beakanyang was able to inculcate the objective the ‘Badinbung’ initiative to people who graced the event.

“Among the one hundred participants were victims of human rights violations, perpetrators, ‘Badinbun’ council of elders and security personnel. The purpose of the activity is to enhance peace within the region, reconcile those who suffered from human rights violations with perpetrators and provide victims of human rights violation to share their stories with the rest of the country,” officials say.

Speaking on behalf of the Alkalo of Kundam, Sulayman Jawla thanked Beakanyang for what he described as ‘timely and important engagement’.

He expressed gratitude to host the Tumana Bantaba, while calling for justice for victims of human rights violations.

For her part, Mariama Trawalleh, a member of the ‘Badinbung’ Committee of Elders under Beakanyang urged the people of Tumana to embrace political tolerance.

 

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“In the past, we have also seen politics destroying the relationships of many families thus leading to many broken family ties and relations. I therefore, urge you all to avoid political violence and exercise tolerance.
Speaking earlier, Yaya Sumareh, outgoing board chairperson of Beakanyang thanked African Transitional Justice Legacy Fund for supporting the efforts of the organization through ‘Badinbun approach’.

Beakanyang holds peace, justice and reconciliation forum at Wuli East

As part of its Badingbung (family house) initiative, Beakanyang on 27th March 2021 held a day-long peace, justice and reconciliation Bantaba at Baja Kunda village in Wuli East District, URR.

In his welcome address, Mr. Nfamara Jawneh, Executive Director Beakanyang said such programmes could be emotional for victims but are needed to bring closure to them.

The BADINGBUNG (family house) of Beakanyang seeks to use traditional methods of truth seeking, justice and reconciliation.

“This activity seeks to provide victims of human rights violations a community platform to share their stories and encourage perpetrators to accept the truth and seek for forgiveness from their victims,” he said.

 

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“it’s our humble opinion that this programme will provide an opportunity for survivors and victims in this district who are yet to appear before the TRRC to also share their stories with the rest of the country,” he noted.
He added: “We have documented the stories of many victims and we realized that many people, including those of you here present, are survivors of gross human rights violations mostly meted on you by the former government,” Jawneh lamented.
He encouraged victims to speak up and also advised perpetrators to make the best use of the opportunity to seek for forgiveness from their victims.
Speaking earlier, Oustass Makeh Jagne, Vice chairperson of Badingbung said: “With this initiative Beakanyang is promoting truth seeking, justice, reconciliation and peace in our communities. We are using our traditional methods of conflict resolution and using Islam as a guide.”
In declaring the forum open on behalf of the Head Chief of Wuli East, Alhagie Juwara thanked Beakanyang for the laudable initiative.
“We need this kind of activities to truth telling, community healing and reconciliation and also facilitate the restoring of broken relations,” he said..
He called on participants to learn from their parts while respecting human rights to promote social cohesion and peace.
Board Chairperson of Beakanyang Mr. Yaya Sumareh thanked the Africa Transitional Justice Legacy Fund for funding the activity as part of Beakanyang’s transitional justice project called: “promoting communal healing in post dictatorial Gambia.
Other speakers at the opening ceremony includes the ward councilors of Foday Kunda and Baja Kunda, Sarja Kamateh and Omar Garry respectively.

Beakanyang, others donates food supplies to households in Barrow Kunda

As part of its Covid19 mitigation efforts in Wuli, Beakanyang in collaboration with partners such as Kaira Kafo on Sunday donated food package to vulnerable households in Wuli Barow Kunda.
Speaking on the occasion, Nfamara Jawneh, Executive Director said the funds for the food package were raised through a taskforce known as Barrow Kunda Covid19 Response Group which he serves as chair.
He thanked all their donors for supporting the initiative nothing that more families are still struggling in rural areas as a result of the impact of covid19.
“We have realized that some families in this community are yet to receive any food aid since the outbreak of Covid19, we are therefore happy to help such families put food on their table,” he said.
Other speakers include VDC members Sarjo Bah and Morikebba Barrow who are also members of the Covid19 response group in the community.

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The duo thanked all those who supported the initiative and called for more support as more vulnerable families still lacking support.
Beneficiaries such as Mamadi Touray, Kumbanding Fatty, Afang Demba Touray and Kawsu Fatty thanked the donors for the support.
Meanwhile, as part of the food package 30 households were each given one bag of rice 4-litre gallon of oil.

Beakanyang trains school chilren, youth on human rights

The Wuli-based Beakanyang Kafoo, in collaboration
with the Regional Education Directorate, Region 6, on 1 October 2011 held a daylong regional seminar on human rights and democracy.

The forum, held at the conference hall of the regional office, brought together over 120 participants representing seven
schools and different youth organizations in Upper River Region.

 

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The theme of the seminar was: “Promoting human rights
and democracy at the grassroots level”.

In officially declaring the regional seminar open, the Governor of URR, Alhagie Omar Khan, commended Beakanyang for organizing the event. He said the government was very much committed to human rights and democracy, which was why it had put in place all the necessary institutions.
He cited the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) an institution tasked with the responsibility of sensitizing citizens on their civic rights.
The regional governor also used the opportunity to remind young people of their responsibilities, saying every right goes with a corresponding responsibility.
Speaking on the occasion, Tumani Danjo, president of Beakanyang, said the seminar was held to teach young people their rights and responsibilities and to inspire them to become advocates for tolerance and peace.
“We want to see our young people as agents of change and this could only happen by providing them with the rights information and knowledge,” he said.

According to him, the right to development is the most basic human right of every child, and education is the most effective tool for human development.
“We are of the belief that the right of the child must be honoured and respected,” he noted. “The organization firmly believes
that the future of human rights, peace and development depends on the young people of today thus the need for these kinds of activities.”
Mr Danjo said that without the active participation of the youth, “no programme relating to human rights is meaningful”.

He also thanked the US embassy in Banjul for funding the event, which is a clear commitment of the US
government in promoting human rights and democracy in the world.

Mr Danjo’s words: “Before I conclude, since Democracy is a universal value based on the freely expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their lives. We must therefore nurture it and also believe in human rights.”

Omar Sompo Ceesay, chairman of Basse Area Council, said in his remarks on the occasion that democracy and human rights are essential principles of development. “People must be free to choose their own representatives,” he said.

Deputizing the regional education director at the function, Amadou Jallow Principal Education Officer, says education is very
important in advancing human rights and democracy.

According to Mr Jallow, the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education has a curriculum on live skills, which also includes issues
such as human rights.


Meanwhile, during the seminar, participants were
introduced to topics such as the introduction to basic human rights, child
rights, promoting grassroots democracy, and the United Nations Universal
Declaration of Human Rights.


The ceremony was chaired by Nfamara Jawneh, secretary
general of Beakanyang, who urges young people to believe in human rights “since
they are not something new”.


Beakanyang Presents Election Observation report

Beakanyang on Wednesday November 29th 2011 presented its 24th November presidential election observation report to the public

 

Accredited by the Independent Electoral Commission, Beakanyang organization monitored and observed the presidential election across the country thanks to the US Embassy in Banjul, which funded the exercise.

Speaking at a press conference held at the American Corner yesterday to hand over the report to the IEC and US Embassy, Nfamara Jawneh, Secretary General of Beakanyang and head of the observer mission, congratulated all Gambians who took part in the election to exercise their political rights.

According to Jawneh, the report was entirely based on what the association observed on the eve of Election Day, on the day itself and the day after the election.

“We observed that even though most polling stations closed on time, ballot boxes were late to be transported to counting centers; we did observe that some voters, particularly at the Buffer Zone, behind Latri Kunda Sabiji Market and at Bakoteh Bantaba polling stations, found it very difficult to locate the right polling stations to vote. They complained bitterly of staying in the queues for hours only to be redirected to another polling stream, and sometimes were redirected back to the queue they were in or to a different stream,” Jawneh said.

He added: “We also observed that ink was applied on fingers of voters, which was time consuming compared to dipping of fingers into the ink; we observed that even on Election Day, some people tried to campaign at July 22nd Square and Gambia High School, asking people to vote for their candidate (one of our observers deployed in Banjul was himself approached); and that a few counting centers were overcrowded.”

 

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Jawneh further told the gathering, which included journalists, that their observers also saw a politician (National Assembly Member) stationed at a polling station in Sandu Misra in the Upper River Region, who was directing people to places where they should vote.

“We observed that not all parties had agents at all the polling stations; some people came to vote lately, which resulted in some argument between them and IEC officials in charge of polling stations,” he further stated.

Jawneh added that over the past six months, Beakanyang with support from the US Embassy in Banjul has been involved in a series of advocacy programmes, including a voter education campaign in the country, precisely in the Upper River Region, using the newly-developed IEC voter education manual.

“Prior to the election, Beakanyang trained a team of 15 young people, all members of the group, to serve as our election observers,” Jawneh continued.

He said on Election Day, the team members went around touring polling stations as early as 5 am, observing the voting process for at least 45 minutes in polling stations visited, before leaving for another station.

“We also witnessed the opening of polling stations and the start of voting. The Beakanyang observers also conducted interviews with assistant presiding officers and other IEC officials on the ground, as well as party agents; the team members also witnessed the closing of polls and sealing of ballot boxes. They also accompanied the transportation of ballot boxes from polling stations to counting centres,” he went on.

Noting that no attempt of double voting was reported or witnessed by members of his team, Jawneh said there were no shortage of voting materials in all the polling stations visited, and no sign of intimidation or harassment was observed or reported.

“We observed a good voter turnout, including more of young people and women,” he said, while recommending to the IEC to avoid bringing polling stations so close to each other, especially in areas where there is more than one stream.

Also speaking at the press conference was Pamela Ann White, US ambassador to The Gambia, who expressed happiness about the report noting that voter turnout in the polls was good.

“My staff were also observing the elections, and I totally agree with your report. I have observed elections in Mali, Tanzania, Senegal and South Africa. I personally felt that the turnout in this country and the patience of voters contributed to the success of the election.”

“The minor problems was the 4 O’clock closing time, which met so many people in the line and the voting time had to be extended,” she said.

Ambassador White recommend that opposition candidates be given more access to the media and for the allocation of more air-time.

Tumani Danjo, the president of Beakanyang said prior to the elections, his association embarked on a voter education campaign in the Upper River Region.

“We are happy that the voter turnout this year has increase significantly compared to the 2006 election,” he said, adding that this could be attributed to the series of voter education campaigns carried out by the IEC and partners, including Beakanyang.

Meanwhile, a copy of the report of the Beakanyang observer team was handed over to Joseph Colley, Director of Communications at the IEC, and to US Ambassador Pamela Ann White.

Human rights activist called for more investment in human rights education

The Executive Director of Beakanyang has called for more investment and attention to be given to human rights education and training in the country.

Our ED made the remarks recently at the graduation ceremony of Masroor Senior School in Old Yundum.

 

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“As young people you must believe in human rights, advocate for respect for human rights and serve as agents of peace and tolerance,” he told graduands.

Meanwhile, speaking to the Voice shortly after the event, Mr. Jawneh elaborated further by adding that there is absolute need for the government and other stakeholders including development partners to commit more resources in human rights education and training.

 He stressed that there cannot be sustainable peace and development in the country if peoples’ rights are not respected or if they don’t know their rights in first place.

According to him, the only way to advance social justice, human dignity and respect for human rights is by committing more resources to human rights education.

He noted that the TRRC Never Again mantra will not be realized without human education and training.

“In fact, I can say with certainty that if we failed to educate and train people more about human rights thus building a human rights culture, this country could fall back into dictatorship and gross violation of human rights,” he added.. 

An international award winning human rights defender further lamented that still now many people in the country view human rights as Western ideologies and noted that one way to clear those misconceptions is through education and training.

“Our education institutions and human rights organizations like ours must priories and focus more on training and educating citizens about human rights.

Mr. Jawneh used the opportunity to call on government to do something about the rampant killing of innocent souls in the country.

“Right to life is the first Article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and also guaranteed by the 1997 Gambian Constitution. Therefore, we must ensure that this right is enjoyed by all and sundry. And the government been the primary duty bearer must steep up,” he challenged.