The Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) on Thursday reviewed and validated a collection of Gambian domestic laws and court judgments relevant to Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV).
The workshop form part of activities IHRDA is implementing so as to include legal resources of the Gambia on its online SGBV databases.
According to the officials, the online which is access at http://sgbv.ihrda.org/, was launched in March 2015 by the institution and that the database is a collection of laws and court judgments relevant to sexual and gender-based violence from various African countries. The move is intended to facilitate access to information by various actors and stakeholders in and out of Africa.
Speaking at the validation held in Kololi, Ismene Nicole Zarifis, the director of Programme at IHRDA, gave an overview of the validation forum, stating that The Gambia is one of the countries in Africa that has recently made significant efforts to safeguard the best interest of women and girls.
She added that besides ratifying the Maputo protocol in 2005, the Government of The Gambia has adopted progressive laws aligned with aspirations of the Maputo protocol for example, the Domestic Violence Act 2013; the Sexual Offences Act 2013; the Women’s Act 2010, which was recently amended to criminalised Female Genital Mutilation; the Legal Aid Act 2008; Trafficking in Persons Act 2007 and the Children’s Act 2005, all adopted the blueprint provisions of the Maputo protocol.
She noted that discrimination and violence against women and girls is still common, with insufficient implementation of relevant domestic laws, as pointed out by the United Nations CEDAW Committee in its July 2015 Concluding Observations on the Periodic Report of the Gambia.
The database, she went on, is meant to serve as an advocacy tool and to facilitates access to domestic SGBV jurisprudence for individuals and institution working on related issue and that pilot countries on the database includes, Kenya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Janet Sallah-Njie, the Chairperson of IHRDA, underscored the importance of the forum, pointing out that the objective of the workshop is to come together and look at resources and confirmed whether it truly reflects the laws of The Gambia.
She urged the participants and others to make the best use of the information once it is uploaded.
by Lama S Jallow
& Binta Jammeh